Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Sanderson Farms Championship Tips 2019

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This week we move from White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia to Jackson, Mississippi for the Sanderson Farms Championship.  A staple on the PGA Tour since 1994, 2019 sees the Sanderson promoted to a full PGA Tour event with $6.6 million on the table for the visiting players. It may be playing second fiddle to the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, but as we saw with Joaquin Niemann (congratulations if you were on board last week), these tournaments are still launchpads to PGA Tour fortune, win exemptions and masses of FedEx Cup and OWGR points. In the case of Niemann, he must now jump into the thoughts of President’s Cup International captain Ernie Els.

Field quality has just about improved from previous renewals here with Brandt Snedeker, Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann, Sungjae Im, Lucas Glover, Emiliano Grillo, Kyle Stanley, Si Woo Kim and J.T. Poston all in Mississippi this week.

Course Guide: Despite extending the Country Club of Jackson course by 57 yards last year, the course doesn’t hold too many fears for PGA Tour pros. At 7,421 yards for a Par 72, length is pretty standard for these modern times, especially as it’s set on a flat property with fairways that are relatively wide by modern standards. Trees are a feature on most holes but they’re relatively sparse and the course features plenty of straight holes.

Country Club of Jackson, Jackson, Mississippi: Designer: Wilson, 1962, Fought redesign, 2008; Course Type: Resort; Par: 72; Length: 7,421 yards; Water Hazards: 11; Fairways: Bermudagrass; Rough: Bermudagrass, 2.5″; Greens: 6,200 sq.ft average Champion Ultra Dwarf Bermudagrass; Stimpmeter: 10.5ft. Scoring Average 2014: 71.47 (-0.53), Difficulty Rank 27 of 52 courses. 2015: 70.47 (-1.53), Difficulty Rank 46 of 50 courses. 2016: 71.06 (-0.94), Difficulty Rank of 34 of 50 courses. 2017: 71.83 (-0.17), Difficulty Rank of 21 of 51 courses. 2018: 71.25 (-0.75), Difficulty Rank 26 of 49 courses.

Country Club of Jackson Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for the CC of Jackson and how they compare to recent courses that we’ve seen on Tour:

  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:29; 325:28; 350:25.
  • Old White TPC: 250 yards from the tee: 36 yards wide; 275:34; 300:34; 325:35; 350:32.
  • East Lake: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:25; 325:24; 350:22.
  • Medinah No 3: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:29; 350:27.
  • Liberty National: 250 yards from tee: 36 yards wide; 275:33; 300:30 325:31; 350:26.
  • Sedgefield: 250 yards from tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:26 325:23; 350:22.
  • TPC Southwind: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:29; 300:28; 325:31; 350:25.
  • Montreux G&CC: 250 yards from the tee: 37 yards wide; 275:41; 300:42; 325:40; 350:38.

Course Overview: The course is a mixture of 2 sets of 9 holes, namely Azalea and Dogwood. John Fought, who re-modelled the course in 2008, is an admirer of Donald Ross’s work and as such it’s interesting to note that green complexes on the whole are raised and have run-off areas similar to many a Ross design. Greens are pretty average in size – 6,200 sq.ft. average – and feature Ultradwarf Champion Bermudagrass, the likes of which were found at previous tournament host course Annandale, but also feature at Trinity Forest, TPC Southwind, RTJ Trail (Grand National – Barbasol Championship 2015 – 2017), Sedgefield (since 2012) and Quail Hollow (since the 2017 PGA Championship).

Visually the course looks quite tight and with Nick Taylor, Peter Malnati, Cody Gribble and Ryan Armour all ending up at least mid-division for driving accuracy when winning here, a level of respect off the tee seemed a pre-requisite. That was until last year when the severe ‘bomb and gouge’ tactics of Cameron Champ worked fantastically well as he posted a CC of Jackson record winning score of -21/267 to beat Corey Conners by 4 shots.

The Country Club of Jackson does present a level of challenge and interestingly we’ve seen a mix of relatively fast, soft and cold, windy conditions across the past 5 renewals held here. 27th out of 52 courses in terms of difficulty in 2014 was followed by 46th out of 50 courses (soft), 34th out of 50 courses (humid with watered greens), 21st out of 51 courses (cold and windy), and 26th out of 49 courses last year, where conditions were cold and windy for the first 2 days, then hot and humid over the weekend! Ultimately though winning scores of -20/268, -19/269 and -21/267 over the past 3 years highlight a tournament where low scoring and top-notch Champion Bermudagrass putting are the order of the day.

The key to contending here seems to be to unlock a relatively difficult set of par-5s – 8th most difficult for Birdie or Better Conversion in 2018 – whilst scoring well on a set of par-4s that are far easier in comparison. Taylor, Malnati, Gribble, Armour and Champ all topped the field for birdies made on their way to victories here.

CC of Jackson Winners: 2018: Cameron Champ (-21); 2017: Ryan Armour (-19); 2016: Cody Gribble (-20); 2015: Peter Malnati (-18); 2014: Nick Taylor (-16).

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Top 20 Finishes | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Scottie Scheffler, Scott Harrington, Corey Conners, Johnson Wagner, Harry Higgs, Joseph Bramlett, Ryan Brehm, Robby Shelton, Ben Martin and Brandt Snedeker.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the WGC St Jude Invitational / Barracuda Championship and includes PGA Tour, European Tour and Playoff events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Doc Redman; 2) Chris Baker; 3) David Hearn / Henrik Norlander; 5) Tyler Duncan; 6) John Senden; 7) Emiliano Grillo / George McNeill; 9) Martin Laird; 10) Vaughn Taylor / Johnson Wagner / Boo Weekley; 13) Scott Brown; 14) J.T. Poston; 15) Robby Shelton; 16) Jason Dufner; 17) Roberto Castro / Corey Conners / Brendon Todd; 20) Alex Cejka / David Lingmerth / David NeSmith / Sepp  Straka.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) David Hearn; 3) Matthew NeSmith; 4) Corey Conners / Emiliano Grillo; 6) Zach Johnson; 7) J.T. Poston; 8) Joseph Bramlett; 9) Scott Harrington; 10) Brandt Snedeker, 11) Kevin Streelman; 12) Dylan Frittelli / Kyle Stanley / Vincent Whaley; 15) Jimmy Walker; 16) Henrik Norlander / Joaquin Niemann; 18) Jason Dufner; 19) Bo Hoag / Si Woo Kim / D.J. Trahan.
  • Top 20 Scrambling: 1) Byeong Hun An; 2) Wyndham Clark / Fabian Gomez; 4) Corey Conners; 5) Bronson Burgoon; 6) Matt Jones; 7) Brandt Snedeker; 8) Cameron Tringale; 9) Brice Garnett; 10) Rob Oppenheim / Richy Werenski; 12) Brian Harman; 13) David Lingmerth; 14) Anirban Lahiri; 15) Cameron Smith; 16) Vaughn Taylor; 17) Ben Martin; 18) Joaquin Niemann; 19) Harry Higgs; 20) Ben Crane / Lucas Glover / Mark Hubbard / Peter Uihlein.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Sungjae Im; 2) Lanto Griffin; 3) Mark Hubbard; 4) Michael Kim; 5) J.T. Poston; 6) Joaquin Niemann / Nick Taylor; 8) Grayson Murray / Martin Trainer / Ricky Werenski; 11) Doug Ghim / Sepp Straka; 13) Aaron Wise; 14) Brian Harman / Brandt Snedeker; 16) Michael Gellerman / Brian Stuard; 18) Matt Every; 19) Sebastian Cappelen; 20) Denny McCarthy.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 20 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Open Championship / Barbasol Championship, which includes PGA Tour events only. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 20 SG Off The Tee: 1) Doc Redman; 2) Aaron Wise; 3) Lucas Glover; 4) Tom Hoge; 5) Austin Cook; 6) Jason Dufner; 7) Martin Laird; 8) Emiliano Grillo; 9) Corey Conners / Zack Sucher; 11) Boo Weekley; 12) Sepp Straka; 13) Harris English / Sungjae Im; 15) Scott Brown; 16) Josh Teater / Cameron Smith; 18) Brian Harman / David Hearn; 20) Brice Garnett.
  • Top 20 SG Approach: 1) Emiliano Grillo; 2) D.J. Trahan; 3) J.T. Poston; 4) Brandt Snedeker; 5) Si Woo Kim / Joaquin Niemann; 7) Zach Johnson; 8) Corey Conners; 9) Zack Sucher; 10) Matt Jones / Johnson Wagner; 12) Jonathan Byrd; 13) Bronson Burgoon / Sungjae Im / Vaughn Taylor; 16) Adam Long; 17) Lucas Glover; 18) Matt Every; 19) Ryan Armour / Kyle Stanley /Michael Thompson.
  • Top 20 SG Around The Green: 1) Byeong Hun An; 2) Richy Werenski; 3) Jonathan Byrd / Brian Harman; 5) Russell Henley; 6) Roberto Castro / Tom Hoge / Billy Hurley III; 9) David Hearn; 10) Vaughn Taylor; 11) Wyndham Clark; 12) Brice Garnett; 13) David Lingmerth; 14) Corey Conners; 15) Seamus Power / Scott Stallings; 17) Robert Streb; 18) Brandt Snedeker; 19) Cameron Smith / Martin Trainer; 20) Cameron Tringale.
  • Top 20 SG Tee to Green: 1) Corey Conners; 2) Emiliano Grillo; 3) Brian Harman; 4) Tom Hoge; 5) Byeong Hun An / D.J. Trahan; 7) Vaughn Taylor; 8) Russell Henley; 9) Brandt Snedeker; 10) Zack Sucher; 11) Matt Jones / Joaquin Niemann; 13) Lucas Glover; 14) J.T. Poston; 15) Boo Weekley; 16) Doc Redman / Richy Werenski; 18) Jonathan Byrd; 19) Si Woo Kim / Kyle Stanley.
  • Top 20 SG Putting: 1) Sungjae Im; 2) Johnson Wagner; 3) Joaquin Niemann; 4) J.T. Poston / Patrick Rodgers; 6) Brandt Snedeker; 7) Sebastian Munoz; 8) Peter Uihlein; 9) Wyndham Clark; 10) Austin Cook; 11) Harris English; 12) Cameron Davis / Chesson Hadley; 14) Martin Trainer; 15) Corey Conners / Brian Harman / Richy Werenski; 18) George McNeill; 19) Sang-moon Bae / Brice Garnett.
  • Top 20 SG Total: 1) Corey Conners / Sungjae Im; 3) Joaquin Niemann; 4) Brian Harman / Brandt Snedeker; 6) J.T. Poston; 7) Richy Werenski; 8) Vaughn Taylor; 9) Byeong Hun An / Sebastian Munoz; 11) Tom Hoge; 12) Fabian Gomez; 13) Emiliano Grillo / Cameron Tringale; 15) Cameron Smith; 16) Russell Henley; 17) Johnson Wagner; 18) Lucas Glover / Denny McCarthy / D.J. Trahan.

Winners & Prices: 2018: Champ 66/1; 2017: Armour 125/1; 2016: Gribble 125/1; 2015: Malnati 250/1; 2014: Taylor 400/1; 2013: Austin 125/1; 2012: Stallings 100/1; 2011: Kirk 30/1; 2010: Haas 22/1. Past 5 Renewals Average: 193/1. Average: 138/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2018: Thursday: Mostly cloudy. High of 61. Wind NW 10-15, with gusts to 20 mph. Due to darkness, round one was suspended for the day at 6:13 p.m. and resumed at 8:20 a.m. Friday (12 players). Friday: Round one concluded at 8:41 a.m., with round two beginning as scheduled at 7:20 a.m. Light rain and cloudy. High of 61. Wind NW 10-15, with gusts to 20 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 70. Wind W 5-10 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 83. Wind SW 10-15 mph.
  • 2017: Thursday: Sunny with a high of 79. Wind SSW 6-12 mph with gusts to 18 mph. Friday: Cloudy, with a high of 77. Wind SSW 10-15 mph with gusts to 20 mph. Saturday: High of 58. NNW wind 10-15 mph. Sunday: Sunny and cool, with a high of 63. NW wind 7-12 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 85. Wind NW 6-12 mph. Friday: Sunny, with a high of 86. Wind S 5-10 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 87. Wind S 5-10 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 88. Wind SSW 5-10 mph.
  • 2015: Thursday: Cloudy, with showers off and on throughout the day. High of 81 degrees. Winds SSW 7-14 mph. Friday: Due to lightning, round two was suspended for the day at 4:49 p.m. Saturday: Cloudy, with rain throughout the day. High of 68 degrees, with NNE winds 10-15 mph. Play was called for the day just before 2 p.m. local time with 76 players remaining to complete the second round. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees. NNE winds 10-15 mph. Monday: Mostly cloudy, with a high of 66 degrees. Winds NNW 5-10 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Jackson, Mississippi is here. I’m expecting similar conditions to those that we saw last week. Wind will be fairly tranquil again, although Friday AM starters might be at a disadvantage with some moderate breeze first thing. But the main story here is a lack of rain – again since the start of this month – allied to extremely hot temperatures. all 4 days of golf will reach +30 degrees Celsius with plenty of humidity, so I’m expecting firm fairways and watered, soft greens. The same conditions we saw in 2016.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of CC of Jackson G&CC winners since 2014 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2018, Cameron Champ (-21). 334 yards (1st), 46.4% fairways (65th), 76.4% greens in regulation (9th), 37″5″ proximity to hole (36th), 58.8 % scrambling (55th), 1.58 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2017, Ryan Armour (-19). 269 yards (69th), 71.4% fairways (3rd), 79.2% greens in regulation (3rd), 29″5″ proximity to hole (1st), 53.3 % scrambling (60th), 1.58 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2016, Cody Gribble (-20). 312 yards (11th), 51.8% fairways (38th), 72.2% greens in regulation (29th), 36″3″ proximity to hole (31st), 80.0 % scrambling (1st), 1.56 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2015, Peter Malnati (-18). 266 yards (66th), 58.9% fairways (35th), 83.3% greens in regulation (4th), 34″8* proximity to hole (33rd), 58.3 % scrambling (62nd), 1.62 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2014, Nick Taylor (-16). 295 yards (11th), 53.6% fairways (40th), 80.6% greens in regulation (3rd), 36″4″ proximity to hole (32nd), 71.4 % scrambling (17th), 1.67 putts per GIR (6th).

Tournament Skill Averages:

Driving Distance: 32nd, Driving Accuracy: 36th, Greens in Regulation: 10th, Proximity to Hole: 27th, Scrambling: 39th, Putting Average 2nd.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2018, Cameron Champ (-21). SG Off the Tee: 2nd, SG Approach: 21st, SG Around the Green: 42nd, SG Tee to Green: 9th, SG Putting: 2nd.
  • 2017, Ryan Armour (-19). SG Off the Tee: 39th, SG Approach: 3rd, SG Around the Green: 13th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 2nd.
  • 2016, Cody Gribble (-20). SG Off the Tee: 9th, SG Approach: 18th, SG Around the Green: 28th, SG Tee to Green: 9th, SG Putting: 1st.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 17th, SG Approach: 14th, SG Around the Green: 28th, SG Tee to Green: 7th, SG Putting: 2nd.

So let’s take a view from players as to how CC of Jackson has played in recent years and what specific skills it requires:

Cameron Champ (2018): “Obviously driver is the key out here, I think. If I hit driver well out here, like I said, it’s a very scoreable course. So I just kept hitting it as much as I could. Even if the fairways were tighter, I felt like if I was further up, even in the rough versus hitting a 3-wood being 40 yards back, I would rather be up there. I guess that’s the game plan.”

Ryan Armour (2017): “You just try. I mean, you’re not always going to be able to, but my strength is – obviously have figured this out finally – is driving it in the fairway, hitting it on the green, and trying to make putts. You get some wedges in your hand on 14 and 15, so you’re looking to make up some ground there. 13 is a good little par-3. Just have had good numbers there the last two days. Then 16, chip-in yesterday, 60-footer today. I don’t overpower a golf course. I don’t go for very many par-5s. I had a chance to go for No. 11 and I laid up. It’s just one of those making percentage choices for me.

Cody Gribble (2016): “Well, first, being in the South, growing up on Bermuda fairways, Bermuda greens, it’s something difficult, I think. There were some places in there, I think even on 15 – I think it was 15, yeah, there’s some grain running into you. It’s not a comfortable feeling when you’re having to hit a chip that all that grain is tight going into you. That’s something I’ve been able to learn from a young age, and Randy has done a really good job helping me do that through the years. It goes down to just knowing where the pin is at on every green, and do you have a miss, knowing your misses, knowing where to miss the ball, knowing where you can’t miss the ball. I think in the last 54 holes, I’ve made one bogey, and that was on 12, and the pin was front right, and you cannot miss that ball right. I looked at Bob, and I was like – I watched Andres Romero hit a shot almost in the water left, and he was in a better position than I was 20 feet right of the hole.

Peter Malnati (2015): “I mean, the course suits my strengths really well. Several of the par-4s I’m able to hit a short iron into. Because of the wetness, the softness of the conditions, I think that sort of neutralized the par-5s. Some of the longer hitters were probably able to get up there in two on the par-5s, but I’d say the majority of the field probably couldn’t, so the par-5s became a bit of a wedge contest, which plays right into my hands. Like I said, several of the par-4s give you a short iron; plays right into my hands. And then the two holes that you would kind of pinpoint as being longer holes, 16 and 18, I really played well all week. I hit it in the water on 16 in the first round I remember, but outside of that, I think I made nothing but pars, maybe a birdie or two even on 16 and 18. If I have a week where I’m going to take those long par-4s and play them well, I really feel like that’s the week when I’m going to be up there and be in contention, and sure enough, it was this week.

Nick Taylor (2014): “Yeah, the finishing holes 16, 17, 18, it was a good finish. But there were some tougher holes, I think. Some scoring holes on the back nine, both par 5s you can get to the front of the green or around them. 15, I did, and I hit it 20 yards from the green. So I’m not sure if it opened the tee up, but a lot of guys hit driver into that. There were some scoring holes, but you have to hit the fairways on all the par 4s to have a chance to go at the pins because if you have the wet Bermuda, it’s tough to judge coming out of there, and the greens are so quick. So fairways are key for sure, but they’re definitely scoring.

David Toms (2014): “I’m keeping the ball in play off the tee, which is a big deal. Obviously on a golf course like this, it’s pretty tight. I’ve been real patient with my iron shots. When I have a good number and feel good about the club and where the pin is, I’m pretty aggressive, but when I’m in between clubs or the pin is in a spot where I don’t feel good, then I’m backing off and hitting to the middle of the green and just taking my two putt and getting out. I think having a pretty good game plan, not necessarily before I start but once you’re into the round and really picking the spots to be aggressive.”

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 5 Sanderson Farms Championship winners:

  • 2018 – Cameron Champ: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2017 – Ryan Armour: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2016 – Cody Gribble: Round 1: 101st, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2015 – Peter Malnati: Round 1: 42nd, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2014 – Nick Taylor: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 5th.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 5 winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2018 – Cameron Champ: Round 1: 1 ahead, Round 2: level, Round 3: 4 ahead.
  • 2017 – Ryan Armour: Round 1: level, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 5 ahead.
  • 2016 – Cody Gribble: Round 1: 10 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2015 – Peter Malnati: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 6 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2014 – Nick Taylor: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 4 back.

Incoming form of winners since 2014:

  • Cameron Champ: 25th Safeway/MC TC/33rd Boise/16th DAP.
  • Ryan Armour: MC Safeway/25th DAP/51st Boise/2nd Nationwide Children’s.
  • Cody Gribble: 8th Safeway/5th Nationwide Children’s/MC Boise/MC/DAP.
  • Peter Malnati: 56th Shriners/MC Fry’s Open/MC TC/MC Nationwide Children’s.
  • Nick Taylor: MDF McGladrey/56th Shriners/MC Fry’s Open/21st Tour Championship.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since the tournament moved to CC of Jackson in 2014. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2018 – Cameron Champ – AM Wave -7/65 – 55/1.
  • 2017 – Armour/Clark/Landry/Shindler/Spaun 3AM/2PM -6/66 – 100/1, 150/1, 45/1, 100/1, 175/1.
  • 2016 – Kevin Streelman – PM Wave -9/63 – 50/1.
  • 2015 – Roberto Castro – PM Wave -10/62.
  • 2014 – Sebastian Cappelen – (10th tee) -7/65.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of Bermudagrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 4 – Bill Haas, Zach Johnson.
  • 3 – Brian Gay, Brandt Snedeker.
  • 2 – K.J. Choi, Ben Crane, Jason Dufner, Matt Every, Fabian Gomez, Russell Henley, Si-Woo Kim, Patton Kizzire, Jimmy Walker.
  • 1 – Ryan Armour, Jonathan Byrd, Cameron Champ, Daniel Chopra, Austin Cook, Harris English, Tommy Gainey, Robert Garrigus, Martin Laird, Adam Long, Peter Malnati, Grayson Murray, J.T. Poston, Cameron Smith, Scott Stallings, Robert Streb, Kevin Streelman, Brian Stuard, Nick Taylor, Michael Thompson, D.J. Trahan, Johnson Wagner, Boo Weekley.

It’s clear that up until this point, the Sanderson Farms Championship has been volatile in terms of its winners since it moved to its autumn spot in the wraparound season format. Tour rookie Nick Taylor was a 400/1 shot in 2014 and although Peter Malnati had a season’s PGA Tour experience behind him, his best main Tour finish before arriving in Mississippi had been 14th in Puerto Rico 18 months earlier. Malnati scored in Mississippi at 250/1 with a few punters stumbling on him mainly because he lived down the road in Knoxville, had won on Bermudagrass greens in Brazil on the Tour earlier in the season and was known for his birdie-making style in softer conditions. Cody Gribble in 2016 was a well-backed form horse who’d finished 5th in his last Korn Ferry Tour outing and a comfortable 9th on his PGA Tour debut 2 weeks prior in Napa, California. Plenty of punters scored on the Texan rookie at a rather tasty 125/1. 2017 saw Ryan Armour produce his maiden PGA Tour victory at the Sanderson Farms – his build-up had included 4th at the Sedgefield-hosted Wyndham on the PGA Tour and 2nd at Ohio State GC in the Playoffs. His win was again at 125/1.

2018 saw Cameron Champ deliver at 66/1. Rated by a couple of commentators as one of the best players to have been promoted from the Korn Ferry Tour, Champ had finished 25th at the season-opening Safeway Open, where he closed with a -4/68 – the joint third best Sunday round. His Korn Ferry Playoffs campaign had seen him finish a best of 16th at the DAP Championship, but Champ was undoubtedly talented, winning at the Utah Championship, and backing that up with 4 top-8 finishes. He also ranked 2nd for Scoring Average, 3rd for Total Driving, 2nd for Ball Striking and 5th for All-Round across his promotion season.

With a slightly deeper field at this week’s 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship, it will be fascinating to see if we get a different kind of winner, especially a bigger name at a shorter price.

My selections are as follows:

Scottie Scheffler 2.5pts EW 25/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Coral

As we saw 12 months ago here, brute power off the tee is one way to attack the Country Club of Jackson. Cameron Champ hit driver pretty much everywhere and simply blasted his way around the golf course. Of this year’s Korn Ferry Tour graduates the closest I have seen to Champ has to be Scottie Scheffler who has plenty about him. Where Champ ranked 2nd for Scoring Average, 1st for Driving Distance, 3rd for Total Driving, 5th for Greens in Regulation, 2nd for Ball Striking and 5th for All-Round across his promotion season, Scottie undoubtedly has comparable numbers with 1st for Scoring Average, 15th for Driving Distance, 8th for Total Driving, 5th for Greens in Regulation, 4th for Ball Striking and 1st for All-Round. Impressive stuff and let’s remember that Scheffler finished 3rd in the Korn Ferry Regular Season Points and 1st in the Korn Ferry Finals.

Undoubtedly the Dallas, Texas 23 year-old has had a magnificent first full season as a professional with 2 wins, 4 top-5s and a further 4 top-7 finishes across 2019. His wins came at the Evans Scholars Invitational (-17/271, 7,225 yard ,Par 72, Illinois) in May and at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational (-12/272, 7,444 yard, Par 71, Ohio) in mid August. But Scottie also went well in the Southern United States with 2nd at the Savannah Golf Championship in Georgia, 5th at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship in Alabama, 7th at the Dormie Network Classic in Texas and 2nd at the Nashville Golf Open in Tennessee.

Powerful and adaptable, Scheffler hit the ground running at the Greenbrier last week where opening rounds of 65/62 came when the greens were softer and more receptive. Interviewed when leading the Greenbrier on Friday lunchtime, outscoring group member Viktor Hovland by 9 shots across the opening 36 holes, Scheffler stated, Morikawa and Wolff came out and killed it this summer, and it was a lot of fun for us to watch. Definitely gives us a lot of confidence coming into this year knowing we can come compete pretty much immediately.”

I think the Country Club of Jackson will fit Scheffler’s eye very well this week with his high Greens in Regulation game – he was 45th here last year when he ranked 4th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green – and 12 months down the line he’s ready to grab that maiden first PGA Tour title in a weak heat. Result: T16

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Corey Conners 1.5pts EW 40/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

Last week we saw Joaquin Niemann produce the tournament of his life to gain his first PGA Tour victory and place himself in Pole Position for a call-up to the President’s Cup International Team from Ernie Els. He’d undoubtedly been playing well from June onwards, once the Tour moved to northern-state climes with Bentgrass his preferred putting surface. I’d place Corey Conners in the same kind of position heading into the Country Club of Jackson, although Conners as we know won the Valero Texas Open back in April after Monday qualifying to capture both his first Tour title and a spot at The Masters.

Corey has come from nowhere in 2019 after a season which has produced 2nd here at Sanderson Farms, 3rd at the Sony Open and 7th at the BMW Championship. Indeed 27th at the WGC St Jude Invitational, 22nd at the Wyndham Championship, 21st at the Northern Trust and that 7th at Medinah, saw Conners qualify for the Tour Championship 4 weeks ago. So he now finds himself at the start of a new season, but with opportunities ahead to force himself into Ernie Els’ International President’s Cup squad.

Based in Jupiter, Florida, the Canadian OWGR World Number 73 has proven to be adept on Bermudagrass agronomy this season and his Strokes Gained 8-week tracker number’s are ripe for another huge week in Jackson. 9th for SG Off the Tee, 8th for SG Approach, 14th for SG Around the Green, 1st for SG Tee to Green, 15th for SG Putting and 1st for SG Total. Result: MC

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Robby Shelton 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

Tennessee Korn Ferry Tour graduate Robby Shelton impressed greatly last week. Whilst Korn Ferry Tour 2019 Number 1 Scottie Scheffler took most of the limelight, Shelton was equally as prominent. An opening round -8/62 from the 24 year-old who hails from Birmingham, Alabama at the Greenbrier last week, certainly showed intent, but it’s worth noting that Shelton looks a far better prospect than many making the jump to the main Tour this season. Indeed Shelton as a 19 year-old hit our radars back in 2015 when he finished 3rd at the Barbasol Championship played on the Grand National course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in his home state. This was the highest finish by an amateur in a PGA Tour event since Phil Mickelson in 1991. He went on to represent the United States in the 2015 Walker Cup and then turned professional.

A win apiece on the 2015 Swing Thought Tour in Florida and 2017 PGA Tour Canada Tour led to Shelton playing his last 2 years on the Korn Ferry Tour. 2nd at the 2018 BMW Charity Pro-Am (South Carolina) was the closest he came to a breakthrough in a relatively quiet rookie campaign, but that certainly changed this year. 2nd at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship (Alabama), 4th at the Dormie Network Classic (Texas), 1st at the Nashville Golf Open (Tennessee) and 1st at the Knoxville Golf Open (Tennessee) helped Robby finish 2nd in the Korn Ferry Regular Season Points list.

So here we have a talented sort who plays his best golf in the Southern United States and who’s already won 4 times in his short professional career. 4th for Birdie Average and 5th for All-Round on this year’s Korn Ferry, Shelton undoubtedly hit the ground running at the Greenbrier last week where he co-led after 36 holes and held his own over the weekend, eventually finishing 7th. Result: T28

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:00BST 16.9.19 but naturally subject to fluctuation.