Sanderson Farms Championship Betting Preview

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The PGA is already on its fourth Fall series event this week as the Tour heads into Mississippi for its annual stop at the Country Club of Jacksonville. The Sanderson Farms Championship is an event that has existed on Tour since 1994, going under names like the Viking Classic (2011-2007) and the True South Classic (2012), before finally switching to its current sponsor in 2013 and developing the moniker of the Sanderson Farms Championship. 

The event has often been played as an alternate field event, and moved to its current location on the schedule one year after the sponsor shift for the 2014-2015 season. Since then it has held its place as one of the first few events on the Fall calendar and been contested at its current location at the Country Club of Jackson since 2014. Last year it received full event status and now offers a prize purse of 6.6 million (winners share is $1,180,000). The increased standing also now sees it award 500 FedEx Cup points among the finishers and an invitation to the Masters for the winner. 

While it will never be confused as a marquee event, the new place on the calendar has allowed the Sanderson Farms Championship to showcase many of the new up and coming talent on the PGA Tour as well. Recent winners like Cameron Champ (2018) and Cody Gribble (2016) were both fresh graduates from the Korn Ferry Tour, who rode the momentum they’d built up there into early season PGA Tour wins. 

This theme of first-time winners goes even deeper as the event has now been won by first-time winners on the PGA Tour in each of the last six seasons. Last year’s victor, Sebastian Munoz, broke a bit of a trend as he was the first non-Korn Ferry Tour graduate to win this event since it switched to its new venue and slot on the schedule for 2014-2015. Before him, the last five winners either had gone through the Korn Ferry Tour playoffs or graduated from the minor league Tour in the previous season.

With no official Korn Ferry Tour graduation taking place this year–due to the Covid-19 stoppage–the event will have a bit of a different feel for 2020 but has drawn a few more elite names than last week’s event. Henrik Stenson is back for another start after finishing T21 in Puntacana and number 51-ranked Sergio Garcia is also here, trying to get his game back on track after suffering two missed cuts in a row. 

Scottie Scheffler (Covid-19) has been cleared to play this week after being forced to miss out on the US Open and will go searching for his first PGA Tour win this week–he finished T16 here last year. Scheffler (30th) is now the second-highest ranked player in the field, via the OWGR, after SungJae Im (22nd). Number 16-ranked Louis Oosthuizen was in the field initially, but withdrew early in the week and won’t be teeing it up here. 

The Sanderson Farms Championship course details

The Country Club of Jackson 

Par: 72, 7461 yards

  • Greens: Champion Bermudagrass 
  • Design: John Fought and Mike Gogel (2008)
  • Past Champions
    • 2019 Sebastian Munoz (18-under par)
    • 2018 Cameron Champ (21-under par)
    • 2017 Ryan Armour (19-under-par)
    • 2016 Cody Gribble (20-under-par)
    • 2015 Peter Malnati (18-under-par)

Key stats

  • The last five winners here have all ranked inside the top-5 in strokes gained putting for the week, gaining +6.2 strokes or more on the greens
  • Four of the last five winners here hit under 60% of the fairways and ranked outside the top-30 in driving accuracy–exception is Armour in 2017 who hit 71% of the fairways (3rd in Driving Accuracy)

The Country Club at Jackson is a parkland venue that features generally quick Champion Bermuda Greens. The venue plays relatively straight-forward with just a couple doglegs thrown in and little elevation. Trees and tighter tee shots here are a feature but there’s not a ton of penal rough that the players have to worry about. 2018 champion Cameron Champ ranked just 65th in Driving Accuracy when he won and no player, outside of 2017 champion Ryan Armour, has cracked the top-30 in Driving Accuracy here the last six years. 

The course features four pretty gettable Par 5’s, with three measuring in well over 550-yards. Solid wedge and around the green play will be needed by most to score well on those holes and scoring well on these holes will be a near must. The winner here has gotten to at least 18-under-par since the event moved to the Country Club of Jackson, and most have ranked inside the top-5 in Par 5 scoring for the week here too. The Par 4’s are a mixed bag with seven of the holes measuring in between 400-500 yards in length and three coming in under 400yards. The drivable Par 4-15th represents a near must birdie hole down the stretch and often plays as one of the three easiest holes for the week. 

From a profile perspective, it’s easy to say that the venue brings almost every different style of player into the mix. Players like Champ, who rely on the “bomb and gouge” technique, can certainly dominate here with power, but still need to convert opportunities when presented. Champ led the field in SG: Putting by a wide margin the year he won gaining +9.1 strokes putting. Not all of the winners at the Country Club of Jackson have been bombers but it’s worth noting that three of the last four winners here have averaged over 312 yards off the tee for the week of their win.  

Ultimately, players with good course management and the nerve to convert their opportunities will have the best success on what is generally a fun venue where the majority of the field will have a chance to go low if they bring their A-game. 

2020 Sanderson Farms Championship betting discussion and picks

From an odds perspective, here are where the last two winners of this event generally went off, from an outright perspective, pre-event for the year of their win:

2019-Sebatsian Munoz +6600

2018-Cameron Champ +4000

2017-Ryan Armour +10000

As mentioned previously, this event and venue have combined to be a paradise for first-time winners on the PGA. The last six winners of the Sanderson Farms have now been first-time winners and many have gone off at great prices for betting purposes. Cody Gribble and Peter Malnati in 2015 and 2016 were fresh faces off the Korn Ferry Tour when they took down titles here and Ryan Armour had just gotten back from a strong Korn Ferry Tour playoff performance when he won. Each of those three went off at +10000 or bigger at many books. 

The last two winners here–Munoz and Champ–were shorter in odds, but had shown solid recent form in their orior start. Champ had landed a T25 two weeks before his win here and Munoz landed a T7 two weeks prior to his win in 2019. 

Betting favorites to win the 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship

Scottie Scheffler +900

Scheffler was diagnosed with Covid-19 directly prior to the US Open and had to withdraw from the second major of the season. He’s been off play for over three weeks now which perhaps isn’t ideal prep but, for an event like this, it isn’t a huge negative either. Scheffler was T16 here in 2019 and is all the way up to 30th in the OWGR now. The American is almost certainly going to get his first win soon but paying these kinds of prices for someone who has admittedly yet to close any meaningful tournament as a pro isn’t generally the way to profit in the outright market. 

SungJae Im +1400

Im’s price took a bit of a nosedive when Louis Oosthuizen–who was the second favorite here–withdrew early in the week. The South Korean finished second in a playoff here last season and has tended to do his best work on more simple Bermuda grass venues like the one we’re getting here. His iron game really took a dip this summer but his last two events have seen him come to life again in that department, gaining over +4.5-strokes on APP on his last two starts–which included a T22 at the US Open. This price is short but also fair for the field we’re getting him in this week.

Will Zalatoris +1600

Zalatoris continues to produce solid finishes, shooting a smooth 7-under 65 in the final round last week to place T8 in his second PGA start of 2020. Zalatoris is currently hunting for a bigger exemption so he can play on the PGA full-time so there is quite a bit at stake for him in this event. He’s finished inside the top-8 in four of his last five starts now but still only has one professional win to his credit. He’s probably better to take as a top-10 or top-20 bet at this point than as an outright. 

Sam Burns +2500

Burns has looked on the verge of breaking through in his last couple of starts. The 36-hole leader at the Safeway Open, he ultimately hit a wall on the weekend there and finished in T7. A similar story befell him last week in Puntacana where he ranked T4 in Greens in Regulation, but was taken out of contention by a disastrous Saturday 78. He finished T3 at this event in 2018 and has some of the best pure Bermuda splits on Tour making him a solid value for me among the top players this week. 

Henrik Stenson +5000

Stenson is an interesting figure in these Fall swing events as the Swede has committed to playing in the States over the Fall as the Masters draws closer. His lack of play on the PGA over the last year likely led to this decision and he started off his 2020/2021 season nicely enough with a T21 finish last week that saw him post four rounds under par. Ultimately, there’s other younger players who might be a little sharper/hungrier this week but getting this price on one of the only proven top-50 players in the world in this field does seem like something that is worth taking advantage of. 

Sep 4, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Scottie Scheffler hits his tee shot on the 3rd hole during the first round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Favorite bets (each-ways and outrights)

For more info on types of golf bets available each week, be sure to check out more info here. Each way bets refer to bets that include a bet to win and a bet to place (usually to at least top-5 but sometimes are available up to top-8 or more). 

Patrick Rodgers +5000 or better (each way)

As much as I try, I can’t resist taking another shot here in a weaker field on the talent of Patrick Rodgers. The Stanford grad recently turned 28 and as he approaches the golden age of 30, you have to think maturity is eventually going to get him across as a winner one day soon on Tour. The big hitter doesn’t carry anywhere near the consistency that some of the other young players in the game do but he possesses a solid off the tee game and putting stats that rank with the best in the world in that area. 

His ability on the greens make him an obvious option for this week–where the last five winners have all gained +6.1 or more strokes putting for the week–but his uptick in ball-striking from last week shouldn’t be ignored here either. Rodgers was fourth in Greens in Regulation in Puntacana and any kind of follow-through in that regard this week could have him contending with a solid week of putting. He’s had positive results at this venue that include T14 and T20 finishes in his first two visits and feels much like the kind of player who we’re used to seeing breakthrough at this event. I’d like bigger odds here, but with Cauley now a WD he was next on the list and, I have to admit, I’m kind of glad he’s back on the card here.

Cameron Davis +5000 or better (each-way)

Much like 2018 winner Cameron Champ, Cameron Davis fits the bill as a big hitter who will likely benefit from being able to swing his driver freely on several holes this week. The Aussie ranked 20th in Driving Distance on Tour last season and is coming off a solid end to 2019/2020 which saw him challenge briefly in a playoff event and end the year with four made cuts and finishes of T29 and T15 against elite-calibre playoff fields. 

The good momentum has followed him into the new season as he gained over +5-strokes ball-striking at the Safeway Open, where he produced a T36 after a final round 67. This will be his third visit to the Country Club of Jackson and his last in 2019 produced a T28, which saw him gain over +4-strokes on approaches. Ranked 10th in eagle average, 23rd in birdie average and 21st in Par 5 scoring from 2019/2020, Davis has enough firepower to challenge here and shouldn’t be low on confidence after his solid end to last season. 

Si Woo Kim +5000 or better (each-way)

It seems like forever ago, but it was just three events prior to this week that Kim was rated as the event favorite and went off around +2000 in the odds department. A missed cut at the US Open, and a week of rest later and the South Korean now finds himself back in very bettable territory around +5000 at most sportsbooks. Kim should never really be counted out, against any field, and considering the season he’s coming off of, it’s hard to figure how he’s not rated up a little closer to the overall favorites again. 

Prior to his early exit at the US Open, Si Woo had made nine cuts on the fly and recorded his most consistent stretch of play on the big Tour. While his last two starts do sort of hint at fatigue, the week of rest should do him well and the chance to back him on a Bermuda venue where low scoring and aggressive play should be rewarded, is too tempting. Both of Kim’s win on Tour have come on predominantly Bermudagrass venues and, while his previous three visits to the Country Club at Jackson haven’t been very rewarding (T61-MC-MC), it’s hard to see how this setup doesn’t play into his strengths, long term. At this price, he’s an easy add for me this week as an each-way. 

Tom Lewis +6600 (each-way)

You admittedly would like to see a bigger outright number when you bet a volatile player like Lewis, but his upside and three professional wins in the last two and a half years means we have to take whatever we can get here. This price admittedly starts to look a lot better too when you consider the Englishman nearly won a WGC event–against a stacked field–only two months ago and cruised to a 5-stroke win against a field similar to the one we’re getting here on the Korn Ferry Tour last September. 

Lewis’ recent form reads with three missed cuts in his last four starts, but it’s his bigger body of work we care more about. His near miss at TPC Southwind at the WGC FedEx St. Jude Classic came on another venue which featured quick Champion Bermudagrass and similar tight driving holes. Similarly, his win at Victoria National on the Korn Ferry in 2019 came at a venue where past winners of the Sanderson Farms–Cody Gribble and Ryan Armour–had both landed themselves runner-up finishes. Lewis is a capable birdie-maker and with his PGA Tour card secure for 2020/2021, should view this field and event as a great opportunity to go hunting for his first PGA win. 

Beau Hossler +12500 (each-way)

Hossler looks an interesting longshot to take a proverbial “shot” with in this field. The 25-year-old Texas native has started to show increasing consistency on Tour of late, and while his ball-striking is still fluctuating between average and poor, there’s a possibility this kind of venue brings out another gear in his approach play. Hossler comes in having made three cuts in a row now and should have some renewed confidence after shooting 15-under in his final three rounds at the Safeway Open a couple weeks ago. While he didn’t follow that up with a great performance last week, a made cut there brings him in with confidence to a venue he performed well at, in his rookie season, posting a T10 here in 2017. 

Hossler gained over +1-stroke on approach and putting at the Country Club of Jackson in 2017 and has posted top-15 finishes on Tour in each of the last two starts when he’s gotten that same combo of production from those portions of his game. A near winner on Bermuda greens in 2018 at the Houston Open, if he brings any kind of increased ball-striking into this week, his solid work off the tee and on the greens should let him compete here. 

Check back for more updates later in the week…

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