This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
SANDERSON FARMS CHAMPIONSHIP
Winner's Share: $1.26M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Jackson, Miss.
Course: The Country Club of Jackson
2020 champion: Sergio Garcia
There's a saying in show business that you should never follow kids or animals on stage. Which brings us to the week after the Ryder Cup.
The Sanderson Farms has gotten about as good a field as it could expect under the circumstances, even garnering one of the 24 golfers from Whistling Straits – defending champion Sergio Garcia. There are a bunch of other names of some renown in the 144-man field, including Sam Burns, Will Zalatoris, Corey Conners, Sungjae Im, Gary Woodland, Si Woo Kim, Keegan Bradley, Mito Pereira and Zach Johnson, who was one of the U.S. assistant captains last week.
Of course, tournament organizers likely are thankful just to be a full-status event, now for the third year, so life is good, even a week after the Ryder Cup and opposite the NFL, college football and the final week of the MLB regular season.
The history of the Sanderson Farms is mind-boggling. It has been known by many names since its inception way back in 1968, and it's safe to say it's the biggest pro sports event in the state of Mississippi (we said "pro!"). For more than half its existence, until 1994, it wasn't even considered an official PGA Tour event; it was embarrassingly called a "satellite" tournament – the money was real but the results were "unofficial." Then it became an opposite-field event. Along the way, it has been moved around more than an army brat, having been played in seven different months: April, May, July, August, September, October and November. It has been played opposite – and how's this for a heavyweight lineup of tournaments – the Masters, the Open Championship, the Tour Championship, the WGC-Mexico, even the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. The Washington Generals can relate. Until 2018, the tourney was played the same week as the WGC-HSBC Champions but then was elevated to the top tier of tournaments.
This will be the eighth year at the Country Club of Jackson, and the 107-year-old track has actually proved to be a bit formidable, annually ranking in the middle of the pack among all courses on the difficulty meter. It's a decent length for a par-72, though it oddly closes with four par-4s, beginning with the drivable 330-yard 15th and closing with the 505-yard 18th. The signature is the 479-yard 16th, which often plays among the hardest holes and is one of five with water in play. Many holes feature wide and straight fairways, allowing everyone to let fly. Even on narrower holes, there's little impediment to taking out driver. The tournament will be decided from the second shot on in. The greens are bermudagrass, average size at about 6,200 square feet and fast, running 12-13 on the Stimpmeter. One interesting caveat: There are only 56 bunkers on the entire course, or about a thousand fewer than last week at Whistling Straits!
Weather-wise, highs will be in the mid- to upper-80s with light winds all four days. There is some chance of rain, especially on Thursday, but not enough to choose a lineup based on tee times.
Fun Sanderson Farms Championship factoid: NBC's lovable Roger Maltbie won it back in 1980, when he shot an opening 65 and then saw the final three rounds all rained out. He earned $4,500 and reportedly joked that it might not even cover his bar tab.
Key Stats to Winning at The Country Club of Jackson
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.
• Greens in regulation/Strokes Gained: Approach
• Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Birdie average/Birdie-or-Better Percentage
2020 - Sergio Garcia (CC of Jackson)
2019 - Sebastian Munoz (CC of Jackson)
2018 - Cameron Champ (CC of Jackson)
2017 - Ryan Armour (CC of Jackson)
2016 - Cody Gribble (CC of Jackson)
2015 - Peter Malnati (CC of Jackson)
2014 - Nick Taylor (CC of Jackson)
2013 - Woody Austin (Annandale GC)
2012 - Scott Stallings (Annandale GC)
2011 - Chris Kirk (Annandale GC)
Last year, Garcia put on a tremendous display of – what else? – ball striking. He ranked ninth in the field in driving distance, 14th in fairways hit and first in greens in regulation, more than enough to withstand a rank of 28th in SG: Putting, which is actually a great week on the greens for him. It was enough to win by a stroke over 2015 champion Malnati, who ranked 39th in driving distance but second in putting. It was another two strokes back to J.T. Poston, who was fifth in SG: Putting. In years past, Gribble and Malnati both ranked first in SG: Putting when they won, Champ and Armour were second, Munoz fifth and Taylor was seventh. It all adds up to a pretty strong indicator that putting will go a long way in deciding this tournament. But the thing is, they all aren't/weren't great putters. So maybe the greens are easy? Either way, you'll almost sure have to putt well to win. Probably more notably, all those winners but Gribble were top-10 in the field in greens in regulation – and Gribble countered that by ranking first in scrambling. There doesn't seem to be much connection between driving distance and winning here. Malnati and Armour are really short hitters, while Champ is the longest of the long. Champ led the field in distance off the tee but was only 65th in accuracy. It didn't hurt him one bit. The past six years the winning score has fallen between 18- and 21-under. The over/under on this year's winning score is 268.5 per golfodds.com – 19.5 under par.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Sam Burns - $11,000 (Winning odds at the DraftKings Sportsbook: +1400)
Burns really came on strong in the second half of last season, to the point that he likely was in the conversation to make the Ryder Cup team. Just last month, he was runner-up at the WGC-FedEx, top-25 at the Northern Trust and top-10 at the BMW to qualify for his first TOUR Championship. He clearly is the class of this field – but at a very favorable price for a top guy on the DK board. This already will be the 25-year-old's fifth start in this tournament.
Will Zalatoris - $10,800 (+1600)
Zalatoris wasn't eligible for the playoffs, so he's played only once in seven weeks – two weeks ago at the season-opening Fortinet Championship, where he tied for 11th. Zalatoris tailed off at the end of last season, but generally did his best on courses like this, a long one where he can let fly. The weakest part of Zalatoris' game is putting, but as we detailed above, that's not a deal-breaker this week.
Corey Conners - $10,100 (+1600)
There are a lot of excellent ball strikers at the top of the DK board. Conners might be the best of the best. He ranked top-10 last season in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Approach. He finished top-25 in five of his last six events to close last season. Conners was 17th here a year ago and was runner-up back in 2018.
Mito Pereira - $9,900 (+2800)
We wrote a couple of weeks ago that Pereira could be this year's Zalatoris – jumping from the Korn Ferry Tour and contending right away. He wound up third at the Fortinet. He's good enough already to be on next year's Presidents Cup team alongside fellow Chilean Joaquin Niemann.
Tier 2 Values
Cam Davis - $9,100 (+3500)
Davis finished sixth here a year ago, before he became a far better golfer and won his first PGA Tout event. As one of the longest hitters around, this track shapes up nicely for him. What impressed us was that right after winning the Rocket Mortgage, he made his final five cuts of the season, including two playoff events. He ranked 22nd on Tour in birdie average last season.
Carlos Ortiz - $8,600 (+4000)
Ortiz has missed only two cuts since May, and both were majors. On the other hand, only two of the 10 cashes were top-25s. He missed the cut here last year, which if you're lucky will cause others to fade him. Ortiz finished top-5 here in both 2018 and '19. He's not statistically great or terrible in any one area, just good across the board.
Aaron Wise - $8,200 (+5000)
We're very high on Wise not just this week but this season. He ranked top-50 in every strokes-gained category last season but Putting, where he was far back. Wise has made his past three cuts at the Sanderson, two of them top-25s, including last year's T17.
C.T. Pan - $8,100 (+6500)
Pan is riding a recent wave, beginning with winning the bronze medal at the Olympics in that mammoth seven-man playoff. He also tied for sixth in the season-opening Fortinet. And he was 12th here a year ago. Pan certainly doesn't have great stats to support this pick, but he does have the results.
Tier 3 Values
Matthias Schwab - $8,000 (+6500)
The 26-year-old Austrian earned his card with a pair of top-10s in the Korn Ferry playoffs, then returned to Europe and tied for 12th in the prestigious BMW PGA Championship. Schwab went to college kinda near Mississippi – at Vanderbilt. He's actually played this tournament once before, last year, but he missed the cut.
Taylor Pendrith - $7,800 (+5000)
Right away, you can see Pendrith's DK price and Sportsbook odds don't jibe, so there's a case to be made that he's undervalued at $7,800. He's a 30-year-old Canadian and KF grad who tied for 36th at the Fortinet. He also notched top-15s at two opposite-field events late last season, the Barbasol and the Barracuda. Pendrith averaged 330 off the tee at the Fortinet, so he should be rarin' to go at the Sanderson.
Scott Stallings - $7,700 (+6000)
Stallings has had great success in this tournament, winning it back in 2012 (at a different course) and tying for sixth last year. In between, he made four of five cuts. Stallings also tied for sixth at the Fortinet, perhaps signaling a better season ahead than last year's disappointment.
Matt Wallace - $7,100 (+8000)
A year ago, the Englishman was bordering on consideration for the European Ryder Cup team, ranked in the top-50 in the world. That wasn't the case this year. But even after a largely down season, he's still ranked 74th in the world. Wallace did make the cut in three of the four majors, was third at the Valero, sixth at the Wells Fargo and top-20 at both Bay Hill and Harbour Town. Clearly, when he's on his game he can succeed, and do so at different types of tracks. He is much better than a $7,100 golfer. It's just that there were a lot of bad weeks, too.
Greyson Sigg - $6,900 (+6500)
We liked the former Georgia Bulldog, one of the Korn Ferry grads, two weeks ago at the Fortinet and he tied for 30th. Sigg won two KF tournaments earlier this year, including the Boise Open playoff event last month. he made a few PGA Tour cuts last season, including the U.S. Open and the Valero.
Sahith Theegala - $6,800 (+13000)
Theegala was one of the top collegiate golfers until graduating from Pepperdine in 2020. He just got his card via the Korn Ferry playoffs, finishing top-6 in the final two events. He then made the Fortinet cut (T47). Theegala missed the Sanderson cut a year ago. His best PGA Tour result last season was an impressive tie for 32nd at the Memorial.
Adam Schenk - $6,700 (+8000)
Schenk has played the Sanderson four times and made every cut, including a top-10 in 2018. Overall, he's made seven of his past eight cuts, including at the season-opening Fortinet Championship. Schenk made his fair share of birdies last season, ranking 56th on Tour in birdie average.
Peter Malnati - $6,500 (+10000)
You don't often see a guy who's won the tournament and also finished as a runner-up down in the mid-$6000s. Hey, Malnati is worth a shot. He was second a year ago, one stroke behind Sergio Garcia. He won here in 2015 and made three of four cuts in between. He opened this season two weeks ago with a tie for 22nd at the Fortinet. And we know that Malnati is a great putter, though last season was not his best.