This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
SANDERSON FARMS CHAMPIONSHIP
Winner's Share: $1.188M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Jackson, Miss.
Course: The Country Club of Jackson
2019 champion: Sebastian Munoz
It's fair to say that the biggest professional sporting event to take place annually in Mississippi is this golf tournament. Maybe that wasn't always the case, but now that the Sanderson Farms Championship is a full-field PGA Tour event, it is. Despite being around for more half a century, it was only last year that it became elevated to full Tour status. For many years it wasn't even an official tournament, and it has run into all sorts of road blocks throughout its mind-boggling history.
The tournament has been known by many names throughout the years, but it had always been an alternate-field event, even before it became an official PGA Tour event more than halfway through its existence in 1994. Before that it was embarrassingly considered a "satellite" tournament – the money was real but the results were "unofficial." Get this: It's been played in seven different months: April, May, July, August, September, October and November. Along the way, it has been played opposite – and how's this for a heavyweight lineup of tournaments – the Masters, the Open Championship, the TOUR Championship, what is now the WGC event in Mexico, and even the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. Only the Washington Generals can relate. Until last year, the tourney was played the same week as the WGC-HSBC Champions.
As for the field, which this year will consist of 144 golfers, the good news is it is far stronger than last week's in the Dominican Republic. The bad new is, it had to be. One week after we saw the weakest full-field tournament in the history of the wraparound era – which began in 2013-14 – the Sanderson Farms will feature a handful of big names. Scottie Scheffler, returning to action after withdrawing from the U.S. Open following a positive test for COVID-19, heads the field. He'll be joined Sungjae Im, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Zach Johnson and the up-and-coming Will Zalatoris. Oh, and defending champion Sebastian Munoz, who used his maiden Tour win as a springboard to get to the TOUR Championship.
This will be the seventh year the tournament is held at the Country Club of Jackson, and the 106-year-old track has actually proven to be at least partially formidable. It's a decent length for a par-72, though it oddly closes with four par-4s, including the drivable 330-yard 15th. The 479-yard 16th played as one of the hardest holes on Tour last season – there were only 28 birdies all week. Many holes feature wide and straight fairways, allowing everyone to let fly. Still, long drivers rarely win. The tournament will be decided from the second shot on in, which we'll delve into in the Key Stats and Champion's Profile below. It ranked middle-of-the-pack in difficulty last year.
Weather-wise, it should be a beautiful week, with sunny skies and temperature in the 70s, with light wind and virtually no chance of rain.
Fun Sanderson Farms factoid: NBC's lovable Roger Maltbie won this event back in 1980, when he shot an opening-round 65 and then saw the final three rounds all rained out. He earned $4,500 and reportedly cracked 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.
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Greens in Regulation/Strokes Gained: Approach
• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
• Birdie Average
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)
2010 - Bill Haas (Annandale GC)
We look back at only the past six years, the Country Club of Jackson era. On the Bermuda greens, Gribble and Malnati both ranked first in SG: Putting, Champ and Armour were second, Taylor was seventh and last year Munoz was fifth. Sungjae Im, who lost to Munoz in a playoff, was 13th. That's a pretty strong indicator that putting will go a long way toward deciding this tournament. 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 five years the winning scores fell between 18- and 21-under-par.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Scottie Scheffler - $11,400 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 10-1)
Scheffler was playing brilliantly at the end of last season, ripping off five straight top-25 finishes – all in big-time events. However, he was dealt an unfortunate gut punch when he tested positive for COVID-19 right before the U.S. Open. He was among the favorites. He is the clear-cut favorite this week. Warning: In this field, he is likely to be heavily owned.
Will Zalatoris - $10,200 (18-1)
Even though he is only 24, Zalatoris is bound to run out of gas at some point, considering he played seven of the past eight weeks, including the grueling U.S. Open. But we'll keep riding him until we're told otherwise. He's even in the field for next week's Shriners event, having told pgatour.com that he's already accepted a sponsor invite. More importantly, Zalatoris is closing in on special temporary membership to the PGA Tour, something that could be attained with another high finish.
Doc Redman - $9,700 (30-1)
When we last saw Redman, he's was shooting 62 on Sunday at the Safeway Open and soaring up the leaderboard into a tie for third. He also tied for third at the Wyndham Championship last month. He was one of the most accurate iron players last season, ranking 11th on Tour in SG: Approach and 12th in GIR. With those numbers, he can get away with being an average putter. Redman tied for 52nd last year in his Sanderson Farms debut.
Zach Johnson - $9,600 (35-1)
Johnson began the year ranked outside the top 200 and he's now 135th after a top-10 at Winged Foot, where he led the field in putting. He ranked 32nd on Tour in putting last season. Johnson made nine of his past 11 cuts going back to the Honda Classic, notching a pair of top-10s and a top-15. He tied for 14th last year in his lone Sanderson Farms appearance.
Tier 2 Values
Brian Harman - $9,400 (35-1)
Harman has played very well since the restart, making eight of 11 cuts – including at both majors – and recording top-15s at the first two playoff events. He finished 14th here a year ago in his Sanderson Farms debut. Harman is not quite the putter he used to be, but he did rank 43rd on Tour last season. He also was an impressive 50th in SG: Tee-to-Green.
Carlos Ortiz - $8,300 (50-1)
With a moderate price and top-5s here the past two years, Ortiz is bound to be a popular pick. He was playing great in the spring but was thwarted by the stoppage. Things were going poorly until a surprise top-25 at the BMW Championship. Ortiz then made the cut at the Safeway. He was a better-than-average Tour player last season in four SG categories: Approach, Around-the-Green, Putting and Tee-to-Green.
Patrick Rodgers - $8,200 (50-1)
Rodgers rides seven straight cashes into Mississippi, including a tie for 11th last week at Puntacana. He's played the Sanderson Farms event three of the past five years, making the cut each time with two top-20s. He ranked 11th on Tour last season in SG: Putting.
Lucas Glover - $8,000 (50-1)
Glover arrives a whopping $2,200 cheaper than he was last year. That's right, he was over $10K. He wound up missing the cut last year, but he finished top-25 in three of the previous five years, including a best of T5 in 2017. Glover endured a terrible end to last season. But he made the cut at the Safeway and then tied for 17th at the U.S. Open, where he hardly ever makes the cut.
Tier 3 Values
Denny McCarthy - $7,900 (60-1)
When superior putting shows time and time again to help decide the Sanderson Farms winner, turning to the best putter on Tour is a good way to go. McCarthy finished 18th here last year and seventh the year before. He's made seven of his past eight cuts coming in. He ranked first on Tour last season in SG: Putting. He's also, curiously, $1,000 cheaper than he was a year ago.
Charl Schwartzel - $7,800 (60-1)
Schwartzel seems to be finding his game after a terrible beginning to the restart. He tied for third at the 3M Open, made the cut at the PGA Championship and finished top-25 at the Safeway. In limited play, he ranked top-30 on Tour last season in both SG: Approach and GIR. This will be his Sanderson debut.
Richy Werenski - $7,300 (80-1)
Werenski was one of the better putters on Tour last season, ranking 21st. He played this tournament three of the past four years, making three cuts, and last year was his best finish at T18. Werenski had a very good summer, making 9 of 11 cuts after the restart – missing only at both majors – and winning his maiden PGA Tour event at the opposite-field Barracuda. He also tied for 20th at the BMW Championship.
Cameron Percy - $7,200 (100-1)
The 46-year-old Aussie has made four straight Sanderson Farms cuts. He notched two top-15s, including last year's tie for 11th. He also finished top-25 in three of his past four starts, with a top-10 last week at Puntacana. Percy is only an average putter, but he ranked 22nd on Tour last season in SG: Approach.
Beau Hossler - $7,100 (100-1)
Hossler is 2-for-2 in cuts on the young season, ranking top-25 in GIR and putting in the early going. He also was top-25 in SG: Putting last season, and that's one big reason why we like him here. He's made four of his past five cuts going back to the Barracuda. Hossler has played this tournament once, tying for 10th in 2018.
Davis Riley - $6,700 (150-1)
Riley has been the second-best player on the Korn Ferry Tour most the season, and if he's anywhere close to the best (Zalatoris), this is a bargain price. He has won twice on the KF Tour in 2020, ranking top-25 in both greens in regulation and putting. Being a Mississippi native, he got into this tournament last year and made the cut. He followed that up a couple of months later with another cash at The RSM Classic.
Vaughn Taylor - $6,400 (200-1)
Taylor had a terrible restart that was worsened and truncated by a rib injury. He was off for more than two months until returning last week with a missed cut at Puntacana. We'll forgive him in his first event back. He has a great track record here, making four of five cuts in the past six years, with three top-20s, one of them doubling as a top-10. The lone MC was last year.
Fabian Gomez - $6,100 (250-1)
Gomez made his last four cuts here and posted two top-20s, including last year. It was one of his four top-25s in 19 starts last season. He's coming off a made cut at Puntacana after missing at the Safeway. Gomez ranked middle of the road last season in greens in regulation and Strokes Gained: Putting, ranking just outside the top-100.