SANDERSON FARMS CHAMPIONSHIP
Winner's Share: $756,000
FedEx Cup Points: 300 to the Winner
Location: Jackson, Miss.
Course: The Country Club of Jackson
2015 champion: Peter Malnati
The Sanderson Farms Championship debuted in 1968, which means it is nearing a half-century on the PGA Tour calendar. It moved to the fall two years ago, opposite the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, but before 2014 it was opposite the Open Championship. There are only 300 FedEx Cup points for the winner, and no Masters invite, but there's still the standard two-year exemption. That altered the lives and careers of Nick Taylor in 2014 and Peter Malnati last year, two very long shots who came away with victories. Those are the only two years to consider, as that's when the tournament moved to the CC of Jackson. The course was the 46th easiest out of the 50 played last year, though conditions were especially soft. It features fairways of average width and greens of average size -- in a word, the course is average. There are some well-known names here, including Ian Poulter, David Toms and Chris Kirk. But 45 of the 50 recent Web.com graduates are also on hand, as is David Duval (and when Duval is in the field, that speaks to how weak it is). Weather-wise, there is only a small chance of rain in the forecast through the weekend and the wind will be light, so there is no advantage attached to an early or a late tee time. The course will be drier than last year, meaning the winning score might not reach last year's 18-under. (Fun fact nobody may care about but me: Malnati, Ian Poulter and Spencer Levin are the three golfers in the 128-man field who played last week in Malaysia.)
Key Stats to Winning at The Country Club of Jackson
• Greens in regulation
• Proximity to the hole
• One-putt percentage (putts per GIR)
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
2006 - D.J. Trahan
With Peter Malnati winning last year and Nick Taylor the year before, the tournament looks like a crap shoot where anyone can emerge from obscurity. But beyond the two surprise winners, the top-10 finishers both years were largely the top golfers in the field. What the two years of play at the CC of Jackson tell us is that the first page of the leaderboard was filled with greens-in-regulation leaders and strokes-gained-putting leaders. Distance off the tee didn't matter, and accuracy mattered little. Scrambling wasn't important; proximity to the hole was.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Chris Kirk - $11,700 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 12-1)
At No. 76 in the OWGR, Kirk is the top-ranked golfer in the field, hence his standing atop the DraftKings board. He's won this tournament before, albeit not at its present course. But it shows a comfort level in Mississippi, and he also has two wins on Bermuda grass, which is featured at the CC of Jackson.
Patton Kizzire - $11,300 (15-1)
Kizzire came within an eyelash of winning his first tournament two weeks ago at the Safeway. He tied for fourth at the Sanderson last year and is among the best putters around.
Ian Poulter - $10,600 (25-1)
Poulter is on the comeback trail, and is here in an effort to secure his card. Right now, he's playing on a major medical, and he has nine events left to secure 170.420 FedEx cup points or $246,134. There's a decent chance he gets there this week.
David Toms - $9,700 (40-1)
Toms enjoys playing in the south, and at this tournament. He was runner-up last year and ninth in 2014. Still among the straightest hitters on tour, his lack of distance won't hurt him here.
Tier 2 Values
Jerry Kelly - $9,400 (40-1)
One month shy of turning 50, Kelly can still compete with the big boys -- at least the opposite-field big boys. He's been playing a form of senior golf for years -- straight but not long -- and it should serve him well this week. He was 22nd here two years ago.
Ben Martin - $9,200 (40-1)
Martin finished 29th at the Sanderson two years ago and is now a far more accomplished golfer. His GIR numbers are decent and he makes a lot of birdies.
Bryce Molder - $8,600 (50-1)
Molder was fourth here last year. He's making his 2016-17 debut. Last year, he was fifth on tour in strokes gained-putting.
Luke List - $8,000 (60-1)
List was 28th at Jackson last year and began this season with a T26 at the Safeway. For a big hitter, he's also a darn good putter -- 22nd in SGP on tour last season. And his lack of accuracy off tee shouldn't hurt him this week. He was 15th in birdie average last season.
Tier 3 Values
Seung-Yul Noh - $7,700 (60-1)
Noh was 24th on tour last season in GIR and seventh in eagles. He was T20 last year at the Sanderson.
Trey Mullinax - $7,600 (80-1)
They're calling Mullinax a poor man's Dustin Johnson. If that's the case, that's still pretty rich. Even though he's a Web.com grad, he did play in this tournament last year, finishing 73rd to get a four-day feel for the course. Mullinax opened this season with a T22 at the Safeway.
Ryan Blaum - $7,500 (60-1)
In only his 11th PGA Tour event, Blaum tied for 26th in the Safeway two weeks ago. He had top-25s in half of his 24 WCT events last year, including five top-10s. Blaum was among the tour's leaders in putting average and birdie average, and had strong GIR numbers, too. There's also a disconnect between his odds and his DraftKings price, making him slightly more attractive.
Camilo Villegas - $7,100 (100-1)
Villegas hasn't played this tournament before and has not played well of late. But he does have three career wins on Bermuda grass.
Steve Alker - $6,500 (Field, 3-2)
The 45-year-old New Zealander has been around forever, with two prior stints on the PGA Tour. The WCT grad tied for 26th at the Safeway two weeks ago. Last season on the WCT, he was 18th in GIR and accurate off the tee.
Tom Hoge - $6,100 (Field, 3-2)
Hoge has made the cut here the past two years, finishing 70th last year and 35th the year before. It's hard to find another reason to pick him, but how about he was 34th on tour in eagles last season?
Hiroshi Iwata - $6,100 (Field, 3-2)
Iwata has not played here before. He hasn't been in the States since missing the cut at the Wyndham, but before that made the cut at the John Deere, tying for 56th. In his previous opposite-field event, Iwata tied for 62nd at the Barbasol. He ranked 14th in eagles per hole on tour last season.
D.J. Trahan - $8,000 (Field, 3-2)
Trahan's best days are far behind him, but some of his best days have come in Mississippi, winning the event in 2006. Yes, that's lifetime ago, but he did tie for 10th at Jackson last year.
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