Now that the premier team event of the year is over, an event that saw the Americans brush aside their European counterparts in convincing style, it’s back to the cut and thrust of the PGA Tour. Some of those involved last week, as a player or in the background, will look to show that they’re just useful under regular tournament conditions, while those not involved should be chomping at the bit to get back at it.
This week the tour is in Mississippi, where the Sanderson Farm Championship will take place at the Country Club of Jackson. Part of the losing team at Whistling Straits last week, Spaniard Sergio Garcia will be in attendance to defend the title that he claimed a year ago.
Garcia is the only one of the 24 Ryder Cup players to feature this week, which means that there’s a definite opportunity, not just for the Spaniard but for those who may not often challenge near the head of affairs. With many of the best players in the world absent, who will step up?
Zach Johnson, who served as a Ryder Cup vice-captain last week, will be involved in Mississippi, as will Matt Wolff, who returns for the first time since the start of the season a fortnight ago. Hugely popular and highly talented youngster Will Zalatoris is very much one of the big-name players this week, as is Corey Conners, who at 33 in the world, is the third highest-ranked player in the field. Sungjae Im, who ranks 29th, will be the second highest-ranked player involved at the Country Club of Jackson. The hotly rated Sam Burns, who showed his quality on numerous occasions the last term is the highest-ranked player in the event, placing at 25th in the rankings.
Country Club of Jackson
For the eighth time, the Country Club of Jackson will host this event. Players will tee it up on the course remodeled by John Fought back in 2008, using two of three nine-hole courses. The greens present golfers with a challenge as many of them are tight and small, while several are elevated with sharp run-off areas, meaning that approach play dialed in to thrive.
There’s no cast-iron winning formula here, but accurate play off the tee is quite important, as the parkland course has no shortage of tree-filled areas that should be avoided, while optimum positioning ahead approach shots that can be tricky can be hugely beneficial. When Sergio Garcia won the tournament last season, he finished the week as the third-best in the field for strokes gained: approach, while the same can be said for 2017 winner Ryan Armour. Strokes gained: putting is a useful stat here too, as the average finishing position of the last four winners of this tournament has been 11th. As is always the case, those who do well will perform admirably in terms of strokes gained: tee-to-green. On average the last four winners of the Sanderson Farm have gained 9.509 strokes from tee to green, with an averaging finishing position of sixth in that category.
Key Stats for the Country Club of Jackson
If there are key stats this week, then strokes gained: tee-to-green is one of them, as is strokes gained: approach. With both accuracy and length off the tee set to help, much as it has in previous years, driving specific stats are important too, while previous performance on these greens should not be neglected.
Four key stats have been highlighted below, followed by the top 10 players in those categories.
Note: rankings are based on the last five renewals of the Sanderson Farm Championship at this venue in the last five seasons, including only those players who’ve played at least four rounds at the Country Club of Jackson during that time.
Strokes gained: tee-to-green: Sergio Garcia, Seth Reeves, Camillo Vegas, Keegan Bradley, Tyler McCumber, D.J. Trahan, Corey Conners, Cameron Davis, Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover.
Strokes gained: off-the-tee: Sergio Garcia, Taylor Moore, Harold Varner, Carlos Ortiz, Seth Reeves, Luke List, Keegan Bradley, Chad Ramey, Brandon Hagy, Kevin Tway.
Strokes gained: approach: Sergio Garcia, Camillo Vegas, Tyler McCumber, D.J. Trahan, Dylan Frittelli, Zach Johnson, Bronson Burgoon, Cameron Davis, Seth Reeves, Talor Gooch.
Strokes gained: putting: Kevin Chappell, Mackenzie Hughes, Peter Uihlein, Lanto Griffin, Charley Hoffman, Brandt Snedeker, Denny McCarthy, C.T. Pan, Peter Malnati, Nate Lashley.
|Odds To Win +2000|
|The question here is will Sergio be raring to go after the disappointment of Europe’s Ryder Cup defeat last week, but it would have been very easy for the Spaniard to follow suit and miss this event, so we must believe that his inclusion is a statement of intent. After all, having won this event a year ago, he knows how to get the job done. He’s here to defend his title.|
The one-time major winner played some fantastic golf alongside Jon Rahm last week, so we know his game is in good shape, while his effort at this venue last season, which give him the lowest average score (on this track) of anybody in the field, should hold him in good stead. We can see from the stats above, that he’s a player to be taken very seriously at the Jackson course, and there’s little doubt in my mind that Garcia should be high on the shortlist ahead of this one.
|Odds To Win +3300|
|Another player who thrived at this venue during the previous campaign, Keegan Bradley comes here with a game that looks perfectly suited to the test that is likely to be presented by the Country Club of Jackson this week.|
The man from Woodstock has an accurate approach game, which is why he gained more strokes on approach than all but three players on tour last season, and it’s also one of the reasons as to why he finished fourth here 12 months ago. In a field that isn’t exactly jammed full of the best players in the world, a player like Bradley becomes something of a big fish in a small pond, and on that basis, he goes down as a must-have.
|Odds To Win +3000|
|Charlie Hoffman is a sleeper in that’s it’s been a while since he lasted emerged victorious, though there’s plenty to suggest that he’s more valuable than a final-place filler in the draft this week. Yes, he hasn’t won since lifting the Valero Texas Open back in 2016, but we shouldn’t discount him on that, certainly not. The 44-year-old played well at the season-opening Fortinet Championship, finishing in a tie for 22nd, while he’s often done well here.|
The Californian has made five out of five cuts at the Sanderson Farm Championship, while his three best finishes have been since the tournament switched to this venue. In 2019, he ended the week in a respectable 23rd, before building on that 12 months ago to finish sixth. Those efforts have left him ranked fifth in this field for strokes gained: total at the Country Club of Jackson. With that in mind, the four-time PGA Tour winner must go down as a value play.
|Odds To Win +5500|
|At $8,600, the Mexican is a solid value play this week. He’s useful off the tee, especially here, where he gains more strokes off the tee than all but three players in the field. In fact, in recent times, this has been a tournament that Ortiz has come to the front in, placing third in 2018 and fourth in 2019. Of those in this field to have played at least four rounds at the Country Club of Jackson, the 3-year-old is the fourth-best when it comes to strokes gained: total. Such a stat is not easy to ignore.|
|Odds To Win +6000|
|One hell of a sleeper, Scott Stallings is not a player to disregard this week, despite him not winning anything since January of 2014. Won this event in 2012 and has since made five out of six cuts, finishing in a tie for sixth place last year.|
Far from a regular high finisher in events, Stallings has made a pleasing start to the new campaign, finishing T6 at the Fortinet Championship a fortnight ago, so his game is in good condition at present, which bodes well ahead of a tournament where he’s often played some of his best stuff.
|Odds to Win +22500|
|From Central America to South America, Columbia’s Camilo Villegas is another under-the-radar type who could outplay his cheap price tag this week.|
Three times a top 20 finisher last season, the man for Medellin ranks very highly in this field for strokes gained: approach at this venue, which really should not go unnoticed. The fact that he’s second in that category over the last five seasons, not to mention third for strokes gained: tee-to-green, helps to explain two cuts made from two appearances at the Sanderson Farm Championship since its venue switch. Has played well here before and may just have it up his sleeve to deliver another strong performance.