This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
SANDERSON FARMS CHAMPIONSHIP
Winner's Share: 756,000
FedEx Cup Points: 300 to the Winner
Location: Jackson, Miss.
Course: The Country Club of Jackson
2016 champion: Cody Gribble
The annual Mississippi tour stop will celebrate a half-century on the PGA Tour next year, which is pretty remarkable considering what it's been up against all this time. First off, it's always been an opposite-field event, and for the first 25 years it wasn't even an official tournament while played the same week as the Masters. In 1994, it began moving later into the season, but still had to compete against the likes of the Open Championship, the Tour Championship and even the Ryder and Presidents Cups. But in the past three years, coinciding with a move to the CC of Jackson, the tournament has gotten some glimmers of light. Yes, it's still opposite a heavyweight, the WGC-HSBC Champions, but at least with that event in China taking place in the middle of night for many U.S. golf viewers, the Sanderson now gets decent attention on TV. However, it still delivers only 300 FedEx Cup points, no Masters invite to the winner and, thus, one of the weakest fields on the calendar.
Simply trying to determine the "big" names in the 132-man field was challenging. William McGirt at No. 75 is the only entrant in the OWGR top-100. As for actual star power, well, that probably goes to Davis Love III or maybe even Hunter Mahan or Luke Donald. Ouch! And word came on Tuesday morning that Donald had withdrawn. Double ouch! After McGirt in the rankings come Jason Kokrak, Chesson Hadley and Daniel Summerhays and, if it isn't obvious already, we're starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel pretty quickly. Last year's winner, Cody Gribble, is No. 280 in the world. The two other champions at Jackson were Peter Malnati in 2015 and Nick Taylor in 2014. This is all the info you need to realize this week is quite the daily fantasy crapshoot. Forty-five of the 50 new Web.com grads are in the field, as are an additional 27 golfers who finished outside the top-150 in the point standings. Some of the these guys undoubtedly will do well. One very basic thing to look for is who has played recently. Some guys have been fairly busy, maybe even playing in the season-opening tournaments; others have been idle for quite a while since the PGA and Web.com seasons ended. It's not much, but could offer a slight edge.
The course actually played relatively tough last year, and with a far stronger field then, ranking No. 34 out the 50 courses played in 2016-17. Uncharacteristically, the final four holes are all par-4s – and this on a stock par-72. Many holes feature wide and straight fairways, but inaccuracy off the tee didn't terribly hurt the three previous winners.
Weather-wise, we're looking at the possibility of some chilly weather on the weekend with a good chance of rain on Saturday, when nighttime temperatures could dip into the mid-30s. Brrr.
Key Stats to Winning at The Country Club of Jackson
• Greens in regulation (GIR)/strokes gained approach (SGA)
• Putting average/strokes gained putting (SGP)
• Total driving/strokes gained off the tee (SGOTT)
2016 - Cody Gribble
2015 - Peter Malnati
2014 - Nick Taylor
2013 - Woody Austin
2012 - Scott Stallings
2011 - Chris Kirk
2010 - Bill Haas
2009 - No tournament
2008 - Will MacKenzie
2007 - Chad Campbell
If the past three years are any indication, the champions didn't fit the champion's profile. In other words, surprise winners. If there's a thread we can use to connect Cody Gribble, Peter Malnati and Nick Taylor, it's greens in regulation and strong putting. Even though the winners have come out of the blue, those right behind them on the leaderboard have tended to be some of the bigger names in the field.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Chesson Hadley - $11,700 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 15-1)
The first thing we have to accept is that all these prices will look crazy. Paying $11,700 for Chesson Hadley is like paying $27 for a tuna sandwich. Don't get us wrong, we love tuna, but it's all relative and, even though Hadley might be $4,000 cheaper in a regular tour event, he deservedly is the top guy this week. After flaming out on the PGA Tour, Hadley returned to the Web.com, where over the past three months he won twice, plus tied for second and had a solo third to finish first on the money list. As if to say he's no fluke, Hadley tied for third in season-opening Safeway three weeks ago, and that field was much stronger than this one.
Jason Kokrak - $11,100 (20-1)
Kokrak had a decent but not great season in 2016-17. He's one of the game's longest hitters at T13 in driving distance last season while also displaying good touch – he was 21st in SGP. He didn't play the Sanderson last year but had top-20s the two previous seasons, and he opened 2017-18 with a T17 at the Safeway.
Chris Kirk - $10,400 (25-1)
Kirk came to Jackson last year as the top-ranked and top-priced golfer in the field. He finished second. He's won before in Mississippi, though not on this track, so it appears he has a comfort level in the state. One concern is that Kirk played in the CJ Cup last week, one of only two golfers to make the global trek from South Korea. Defending champion Cody Gribble was the other.
William McGirt - $10,200 (25-1)
McGirt is the top-ranked golfer in the field this time around, at No. 75 in the OWGR. He wasn't in the field last year, but was runner-up two years ago and T7 three years back. This is McGirt's season debut. He had a poor 2016-17, though not because of his GIR (ranked 45th).
Tier 2 Values
Kevin Streelman - $9,700 (25-1)
Streelman was T18 here last year, and he opened this season with a T13 at the Safeway. Streelman was 51st on Tour in total driving and 64th in GIR last season – not bad numbers, but in comparison to the rest of this field, those would get you in the Hall of Fame.
Ben Martin - $9,400 (30-1)
Martin's name tends to surface in weaker fields, and with good reason – he plays well. Late last season, Martin was T6 at the Barbasol and T14 at the Barracuda Championship, which like the Sanderson are opposite-field events. He was T18 last year at Jackson and opened this season with a T17 at the Safeway.
Austin Cook - $9,300 (30-1)
Cook is a 26-year-old native of Arkansas (right nest to Mississippi). He closed the Web.com season with a surge, with top-11s in the final three playoff events, capping a breakthrough season that featured a second and a third among eight top-10s. He finished 12th in GIR and 15th in total driving. This is his 2017-18 debut.
Brandon Hagy - $8,800 (50-1)
There may be no better golfer in the field than the 26-year-old Hagy, who tied for 14th at Jackson last year. He was third on Tour in driving distance along with a wayward 180th in accuracy, but that added up to 25th in SGOTT. This is the first start of Hagy's sophomore season, and we envision a better result than last season's 113th in points.
Tier 3 Values
Davis Love III - $8,100 (80-1)
Well this would be quite a story. Love already is the third-oldest PGA Tour champion on record, having won the 2015 Wyndham at age 51. Now 53, he could become the oldest. Do we expect a win? No. But Love has been playing great golf. In his last three starts, he was T10 at the Wyndham in August, then T10 at a Champions Tour event at Pebble Beach and T28 at the CIMB on the regular tour two weeks ago.
Richy Werenski - $8,100 (50-1)
The rookie showed flashes last season, with a runner-up, three top-10s and six top-25s. Werenski was 36th in GIR and 81st in SGOTT. This is already his third start of the season, after the Safeway (T37) and CIMB (T63).
Corey Conners - $7,700 (60-1)
The 26-year-old Canadian had a nice run at the end of the Web.com season, with top-20s in three of four events before missing the cut at the season-ending Tour Championship. Conners was first on the Web.com in GIR. He opened his season with a respectable T30 at the Safeway.
Denny McCarthy - $7,600 (80-1)
McCarthy didn't win on the Web.com Tour, and didn't come all that close. However, he did register top-25s in almost half of his starts (11-of-23), including the final three of the playoffs. What's his secret? Putting. He ranked second on the tour in putting average last season.
Steve Wheatcroft - $7,300 (80-1)
Wheatcroft had some success in the opposite-field events last season, making the cut in Puerto Rico and at the Barbasol and Barracuda, but he had to secure his card via the Web.com Tour Finals. He made all four cuts there, including a pair of top-20s and opened this season with a made cut at the Safeway (T59). Wheatcroft's strengths last season were driving accuracy (15th) and putting (11th SGP).
Tom Hoge - $7,200 (80-1)
Hoge returned to the Web.com Tour to keep his card and made all four playoff cuts, the final three being top-25s. He opened this season with a 65 in the first round of the Safeway before settling for a T37 finish. Hoge was 61st in SGA and 98th in SGP last season – not great numbers, but pretty good for this field.
Ben Silverman - $7,100 (Field, 7-4)
The 29-year-old Canadian was 16th on the Web.com Tour in GIR and 41st in putting average last season, when he had a win and a runner-up among 10 top-25s. Silverman opened play this season with a T43 at the Safeway.
Talor Gooch - $6,900 (Field, 7-4)
Gooch played 2016 on Canada's Mackenzie Tour with a world ranking in the 700s. He had a successful 2016-17 season on the Web.com Tour that saw him climb to around No. 200 in the OWGR. Gooch didn't have a great finish to the season, but he had a win, a runner-up and nine top-25s. He opened with a T54 at the Safeway. Back in June, he qualified for the U.S. Open and made it through all four rounds.