The main attraction is taking place in China this week but there are plenty of really decent golfers hitting the links Stateside for the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Since the move to the fall, the Country Club of Jackson has played the role of host course. This will be the fourth year in a row they will be playing that role.
Elite putters have won the last two editions (Cody Gribble and Peter Malnati) but Nick Taylor won three years ago and Luke List finished runner-up here last year. There are plenty of ways to get the job done here at the CC of Jackson.
There are a lot of mid-to-long range holes on the course this week. That plays into the hands of some of the bombers, allowing them to rip driver after driver. At the same time, the greens are incredibly easy to hit for everyone in the field, especially if you’re attacking from the fairway. The field average GIR percentage from the fairway has been north of 81 percent in each of the past three editions.
There is nothing challenging about the course, which allows elite putters to shine but the big hitters are able to setup plenty of eagle opportunities. It’s really a good ole’ fashioned shootout venue. Comfort in the South (and on Bermuda) is a big bonus this week.
While putting on Bermuda is a big positive, it’s also not end all be all. Events that grade out as potential pointers include: CareerBuilder Challenge, Sony Open, Genesis Open, Puerto Rico Open, and OHL Classic at Mayakoba.
Check out the Sanderson Farms Golfanac for more tournament details and golfer quotes.
Players to Watch
Chris Kirk… It’s been years since Chris Kirk has headlined a field, but here we are. There is something about Mississippi that really suits Kirk. He won this event back in 2011 when it was played at Annadandale. He’s returned three times, cracking the top 10 each visit, including a T2 last year, which was his first look at the Country Club of Jackson.
William McGirt… Par 72s are not generally the layouts to target Willy but when you get a field this weak, some of those stats can be thrown out the window. He loves playing in the South. In this field, only Chris Kirk has gained more strokes on Bermuda since the start of 2014. He also has back-to-back top 10s at this venue. A great spot to find his form.
Patton Kizzire… Another golfer who has lost his form, but should really feast on this type of layout. Kizzire has missed three straight cuts after a T9-T24 run at the Barracuda and Wyndham. A return to easier competition should provide a spark. These fall events against weak fields have been kind to General Patton, as his three best finishes on TOUR have come between October 16th and November 8th on the calendar. One of those was a T4 at this event just two years ago.
Brandon Hagy … Talent wise, Hagy easily pops the top 25 in this field, but the consistency has not always been there and he was forced to WD before his latest start at the Safeway due to a wrist injury. Finished T14 here last year but I will take a pass this week.
Blayne Barber… I keep waiting for the breakout to happen. If it’s going to happen, the odds are very good that it will come on a Bermuda course against a weaker field… Sounds like this week fits both criteria.
J.J. Spaun… Looking at this field and performance on Bermuda in 2017, Brian Gay actually gained the most strokes on Bermuda in 2017, followed by SPAUN. That makes him at least a little interesting this week.
Austin Cook… He’s missed the cut in his previous two visits here but this time around he arrives with PGA TOUR status already in hand. The University of Arkansas product should play a little more stress-free this week, and we know he’s very comfortable playing in the South. Other than his two missed cuts here, he’s posted top 25s in six of his other eight PGA TOUR starts. We have a nice breakout candidate on our hands.
My Top 25 for the 2018 Sanderson Farms
1. Chris Kirk
2. William McGirt
3. Austin Cook
4. Kevin Streelman
5. Matt Jones
6. Cameron Tringale
7. Patton Kizzire
8. Smylie Kaufman
9. Tyler Duncan
10. Ben Silverman
11. Brandon Harkins
12. Keith Mitchell
13. Tom Lovelady
14. Andrew Landry
15. Aaron Wise
16. Chesson Hadley
17. Ben Martin
18. Tom Hoge
19. Seamus Power
20. J.J. Spaun
21. Jason Kokrak
22. Blayne Barber
23. Harris English
24. Daniel Summerhays
25. Luke Donald