After an American blowout win at the Ryder Cup, the PGA TOUR marches onward this week to its second official event of the year. The Sanderson Farms Championship has been a mainstay on the fall schedule for the past few years and the jumping off point for many young or up-and-coming players to grab their first win on TOUR. Sebastian Munoz accomplished that feat in 2020, while Cameron Champ did the same the year before.
Last year, veteran Sergio Garcia blitzed this course with some supreme ball-striking to grab his first win since his 2017 triumph at Augusta, and he’ll be back for more this week. Garcia, Sam Burns and Will Zalatoris headline a weaker field, with almost all of the top players (most of whom played last week at Whistling Straits) skipping this event. Some new PGA rookies like Sahith Theegala, Matthias Schwab and Greyson Sigg will also be in attendance this week and will try to make some noise before the top players return. This week is also a regular full-field event and will feature the regular PGA cutline, which sees the top 65 players (and ties) go on to play the weekend.
Country Club of Jackson — Jackson, Mississippi
Par 72, 7,460 yards
Country Club of Jackson has hosted this event since 2014. The venue isn’t overly difficult as it has seen winners reach between 18 and 21 under par here the last five seasons. It did rank as the 26th-hardest venue on TOUR in 2018 (71.246 scoring average), which puts it middle of the pack in terms of toughness. Overall though, expect a lot of birdies to be made this week.
The venue was created in 1962 but redesigned in 2008. It’s a parkland setting with trees lining many of the fairways, and playing from out of the rough here can be somewhat problematic in terms of sight lines to holes on your second shots. The course is a mix of wider, open greens and more claustrophobic fairways that demand accuracy off the tee.
The players here only average about 54% in the Driving Accuracy department, which is six to eight percent lower than TOUR average. You don’t have to be arrow straight to win, though, as the greens are relatively easy to hit since the field average here in GIR% is about 69%, which is about four percent higher than the TOUR average in GIR. The last two winners here ranked outside the top 30 in Driving Accuracy for the week of their win here, but each of the last three winners have also gained +3.5 strokes or more Off the Tee for the week (Garcia gained over +5.0 strokes OTT last year).
The Bermuda greens at CC of Jackson almost always run pure this time of year, and that’s been reflected in the stats. Past winners have almost always putted the lights out, with five of the last six winners here ranking fifth or better in SG: Putting stats for the week of their win. Finally, the course carries four very scorable Par 5s, three of which play between 550-600 yards. The 2018 winner, Cameron Champ, played those holes in 12-under par the week when he won, so efficiency on these holes can be a huge benefit.
2021 Outlook: The weather this week doesn’t look like it will be a huge worry. There is some early-week rain and thunderstorms in the forecast, which will likely keep the course soft. Thursday may see some thunderstorms in play early in the day, which could delay things. Wind isn’t expected to be prevalent, though, and temperatures will be in the mid-80 degrees Fahrenheit range all week. Friday to Sunday looks like perfect weather with almost no wind and almost no chance of rain or storms. Expect a softer course, though, which could make things a touch easier and put more emphasis on iron play and putting.
Last 5 winners
(2020)—Sergio Garcia -19 (over Peter Malnati -18)
(2019)—Sebastian Munoz -18 (over Sungjae Im playoff)
(2018)—Cameron Champ -21 (over Corey Conners -19)
(2017)—Ryan Armour -19 (over Chesson Hadley -14)
(2016)—Cody Gribble -20 (over Chris Kirk -16)
- Six of the last seven winners have all been first-time winners on the PGA TOUR.
- Four of the last seven winners were not full-time PGA TOUR members in the previous season.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
Sergio Garcia (2020 at -19)
· Country Club of Jackson has hosted this event since 2014; before Garcia won last year, each of the past five winners from 2016 to 2020 had gained +6.2 strokes or more putting for the week of their win.
· Driving distance for this event has about matched the TOUR average over time, but hitting fairways at this venue has been tough, with players averaging around 54% Driving Accuracy.
· Strong Off the Tee play has been beneficial, as the last three winners here have all gained +3.8 strokes or more Off the Tee.
· The course blends a lot of longer approaches with short ones, as 125-150 yards and less than 200 yards are the two most popular approach distances here from past events.
· The course does contain seven water hazards, with water being very prominent on the final two tee shots (17 and 18) of the event.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. J.T. Poston ($6,600; best finishes: T3-2020, T11-2019): Poston actually ranks second at this event in Strokes Gained Total stats over the last five years. He’s played Jackson every season since 2017 and made the cut each year. A Bermuda putting maestro, Poston deserves some top billing this week in the Horses section.
2. Carlos Ortiz ($8,600; best finishes: T4-2019, T3-2018): Ortiz has been in contention here in two of the last three seasons, landing top-five finishes in 2018 and 2019. He’s had some great putting performances at CC of Jackson in the past and deserves some respect this week for his past performances at this event.
3. Denny McCarthy ($6,600; best finishes: T6-2020, T7-2018): McCarthy has posted top-20 finishes in each of his last three starts at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He gained an obscene +10.1 strokes on the greens here in 2018 and gained +4.3 strokes putting here last year. Despite a poor 2021, he could pop this week given the venue and field.
4. Sebastian Munoz ($9,300; best finishes: win-2019): Munoz blitzed this course back in 2019, grabbing his first and only PGA win. He’s now played this event each of the past four years and made the cut here each time. He had a terrible first outing of the new season at the Fortinet Championship but is a prime bounce-back candidate this week.
5. Corey Conners ($10,100; best finishes: second-2018): Conners came close to becoming the second Canadian to win this event (Nick Taylor did in 2015), as he finished runner-up here in 2018. He’s made the cut at this event in three of his last four appearances and ranks seventh in SG: Total stats here in the past five seasons.
1. Mito Pereira ($9,900; T3): Pereira has been all over leaderboards since joining the PGA last year (he won three times on the Korn Ferry TOUR and got an automatic promotion). He’s landed top-six finishes in three of his last four starts and looks like a player ready to break through.
2. Sam Burns ($11,000; T18-T8): Burns had a monster 2021 season and ranks first in this field in strokes gained total stats over the last six events. With four top-10 finishes over his last 10 starts — and a weaker field here — don’t be shocked if he’s contention late again.
3. Will Zalatoris ($10,800; T11-T29): Zalatoris had a nice outing in his last start and has now gained strokes OTT and on Approach in each of his last three PGA outings. He looks like a player ready to break through, but he will need the putter to heat up here.
4. Scott Piercy ($7,400; T11): Piercy has played some solid golf of late, as he comes in having landed top-15 finishes in two of his last three starts. He’ll need to pick up his iron play to really compete, but the rest of his game looks solid right now.
5. John Augenstein ($6,700; T6): The 22-year-old had a stellar outing at the Fortinet Championship, landing a T6 finish and gaining +6.2 strokes on approach. He’ll need more big finishes given his lack of status, but Augenstein has played well in his last three PGA starts.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Ride with moderately priced Sungjae
Sungjae Im ($10,300) comes into this event off a strong end to last season, landing a third-place finish in the BMW Championship and spot in the TOUR finals. Prior to the TOUR Championship, he had gained over a stroke both OTT and on Approach in four straight starts. His massive Bermuda putting splits are also a plus, and he finished second here in 2019. The options under $9K get dicey quickly, but I don’t mind trusting players like Chez Reavie ($7,700) and Mackenzie Hughes ($7,600) in the $7K range this week. Reavie especially looks underpriced given how well he’s played tee to green of late. Other potential cash or core targets here include the likes of Chris Kirk ($7,500), Adam Hadwin ($7,000) and Adam Schenk ($6,700).
Tournaments: Swing for the fences with Si Woo
This event is the definition of wide open, and that could allow a talented but streaky player like Si Woo Kim ($9,500) to swoop in and grab a win. Kim looked good his last time out in California, where he grabbed a T11 finish at the Fortinet Championship. All of his wins on TOUR have come on Bermuda greens, which is a big net positive for his chances here. Sebastian Munoz ($9,300) also looks like a good bounce-back candidate. He was awful in that same event (missing the cut, badly), but he’s had lots of success at Jackson CC, including a 2019 win. Aaron Wise ($8,300 – see below) also sets up as another high-to-mid-tier target who could go overlooked. Other potential GPP plays here include the likes of Matthew Wolff ($8,500), Henrik Norlander ($7,200), John Augenstein ($6,700), Andrew Putnam ($6,600) and Anirban Lahiri ($6,200 – see below).
MY PICK: Aaron Wise ($8,300)
Wise ended last season on a strong note, grabbing top-25 finishes in his last two playoff starts. The 24-year-old didn’t reach East Lake, but his performances against strong fields should really give him some good momentum to start 2021. Wise is a talented young player who has proven he can dominate on tracks where aggressive play gets rewarded. He comes into this week ranked a surprising ninth in long-term tee to green form (over the last 50 rounds) and has also been great for DFS purposes, as he’s fourth in DraftKings points gained over the last 24 rounds.
Off the tee has been a strength for Wise of late, too, as he’s top 20 in SG: Off the Tee stats in this field and has gained strokes in that area in 12 of his last 14 starts on TOUR. This will also be his fifth time playing at CC of Jackson, and he managed to post a career-best T17 here last season while gaining over +3.0 strokes putting and on approach. Wise is an elite talent when his mind is right and buying in here at reasonable prices for DFS (and on DraftKings Sportsbook, where he’s +5000 to win) is something I’m very interested in for this week’s event.
MY SLEEPER: Anirban Lahiri ($6,200)
Lahiri’s play started to take an uptick near the end of last season, and he’s someone who catches the eye in this very weak field. The 34-year-old has had some close calls on TOUR over the last five years, and a T6 finish at Corales and a T3 at the Barbasol showcase just the sort of events Lahiri tends to do his best work at — generally the ones where the top players are at home resting. That’s exactly the type of event we’re getting here and a good enough reason on its own to be bullish on his chances this week.
As mentioned, though, Lahiri’s playing well, particularly off the tee where he’s now gained +1.0 stroke or more in his last five PGA starts and ranks fifth in SG: OTT stats in this field over the last 24 rounds. He’s gained over +3.5 strokes Tee to Green at CC of Jackson the last two years and has just been a hot putting week away from posting a top finish here. When he does putt well, he produces — the last two times he’s gained +3.0 strokes or more with the putter on the PGA he’s finished inside the top five. I like taking a shot with him here, as his price is insanely cheap, and his play of late suggests he’ll have a great chance of showing up with a decent finish in this weaker field.
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