We’re only in the second week of a long season.
Don’t be chicken!
That was the count before you could rush the QB in backyard football in my day. While many have their attention turned to football, the TOUR rolls on and the Country Club of Jackson, Mississippi, will be center stage this week.
For the first time in the wrap-around season, the Sanderson Farms Championship will have “full status” on TOUR. A full field of 156 will have a chance to cash on a full 500 FedExCup points to the winner, a prize pool of $6.6 million ($1.118 winner) plus a trip to Augusta for the winner, finally.
The Country Club of Jackson has been the host since 2014, so any other facts or winners from previous events need not apply. I wouldn’t dismiss playing in the heat and humidity or previous experience on Bermuda, but the last five events here are my concern this week.
The composite course will stretch this year to 7,460, the longest ever, as No. 17 has added a back tee for entertainment down the stretch. It’s time again for Bermuda grass to make a difference, especially on the greens. Champion Bermuda rolls at 12 feet will require a shift in mentality as most of the field (read: those who didn’t play East Lake) have been navigating Bentgrass for the last month or more. The Bermuda rough also requires nuanced recovery shots. Rob Bolton has more on the course below.
Playing to at Par-72 (36-36) CCofJ will provide four Par-5 opportunities and the average winning score over the five editions is almost 19-under par. The formula is simple this week as those who create and convert the most scoring chances will be in the conversation come Sunday.
2018-19: Cameron Champ (-21, 267)
Bombing CCofJ into dust, the rookie set the tournament scoring record in his debut while becoming the fifth consecutive first-time TOUR winner at the event. … Led or co-led after every round. … Round 3 64 was co-lowest of the week. … Led by four after 54 and won by four. … Played the Par-5 holes 12-under for the week.
Notables: No player posted all four rounds in the 60s. … Corey Conners (2nd) was tied at the turn on Sunday before Champ pulled away. … Louisiana native Sam Burns also played the weekend 12-under for T3. … Carlos Ortiz closed with 64 for T3, his best result on TOUR to this day, in his first visit. … Roberto Castro, who set the course record with 62 in 2015, fired 29 on the front nine Sunday and eventually cashed T5.
2017: Ryan Armour (-19, 269)
41-year old picked up his first TOUR win after leading by five after 54 holes. … 28 birdies were the most in the field by five. … Winning margin was five. … Led the field in proximity, feet of putts made and Par-4 scoring. … Only winner since 2015 to NOT lead the field in Putting: Birdie-or-Better Percentage as he was second. … Best previous finish on TOUR was T4.
Notables: Chesson Hadley rode his T3 at Safeway the previous week to solo second in Mississippi. … Only 11 bogey-free rounds on the week. … Only two bogey-free rounds on the weekend as the late October weather turned chilly. … Sponsor’s exemption Wyndham Clark co-led the field after Round 1 (66) before cashing solo 17th. … Only five other players besides Armour were double digits under par for the week, including Brian Stuard (T4).
2016: Cody Gribble (-20, 268)
The rookie fired a final round, bogey-free 65 to make up a one-shot deficit and win his first TOUR event. … 63 in Round 2 was the co-low round of the week. … Just his eighth start on TOUR and first at the event. … Only winner to sign with a round over par (73, Round 1). … From 2015-2018, the winner was either first or second in Strokes-Gained: Putting. … From 2015-2018 the winner was either first or second in Putting: Birdie-or-Better Conversion Percentage. … Four of the five winners hit the top 10 in GIR. … Gribble is NOT in the field this week.
Notables: Luke List co-led after 54 holes before cashing T2 four back. … Grayson Murray led by two after 36 (T8). … Kevin Streelman opened with 63 to lead after Round 1. … Temperatures in the 80s all week long in the final week of October saw 26 bogey-free rounds carded.
Key stat leaders
Golfers around the top 30 or so in each statistic on the 2018-19 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.
* – previous top 10 finish here
2 Wyndham Clark
6 Sungjae Im (MC)
10 *Denny McCarthy
12 *Matt Jones
23 *Martin Laird
23 Aaron Wise
23 Cameron Davis
23 *Luke List
31 Si Woo Kim
31 Hank Lebioda
31 Sebastian Munoz
Greens in Regulation
1 *Corey Conners
2 Johnson Wagner
5 Jason Dufner (first appearance)
8 Josh Teater
12 *Shawn Stefani
14 *Martin Laird
15 *Kevin Streelman
18 *Brice Garnett (9, 2016)
22 *Cameron Champ
25 Hank Lebioda
25 Sepp Straka
33 Cameron Davis
34 Emiliano Grillo (first appearance)
Putting: Birdie-or-Better Percentage
6 *Denny McCarthy
7 Aaron Wise
8 Wyndham Clark
11 Si Woo Kim
14 Dominic Bozzelli
21 Sepp Straka
23 *Vaughn Taylor
27 *Cameron Champ
33 Sungjae Im
35 Austin Cook
1 *Denny McCarthy
3 Dominic Bozzelli
7 *Patton Kizzire
8 Wyndham Clark
9 *Vaughn Taylor
12 Brandt Snedeker (first appearance)
15 Harris English
18 Johnson Wagner
19 *Peter Malnati (2015 champion)
22 Patrick Rodgers
23 Sam Ryder
29 *Sam Burns
Roberto Castro: Fits the mold in more ways than one as he’s never won on TOUR and is the only player in the field with a pair of top five finishes (T5 – 2018, T4 – 2016). Never missed in three chances.
Shawn Stefani: Fits the mold here in more ways than one as he’s never won on TOUR and has posted back-to-back top-10 finishes the last two years. Chuck in a T25 in 2015 and he’s comfy here.
Patton Kizzire: His aggregate total is 24-under as he was T4 in 2016 and T10 in 2018. Toss in a MC in 2017, and he’s still 23-under in that stretch.
D.J. Trahan: Completes our list of players with multiple top-10 paydays in the field this week since the move to CCofJ, as he cashed T7 last year and T10 in 2016. I’ll point out he loves golf in this region, as he was also the 2006 event winner, T3 in 2010 and T9 in 2011 at Annandale.
Lucas Glover: He’s 42-under in his four trips since the move and three of those rounds are par or WORSE! Of his 13 rounds, seven are 68 or lower and T5 (2017) is the best payday. T14 last year after missing 2018.
Vaughn Taylor: Only one top 10 (2018), but his other three are T26 or better with 14 of 16 rounds in the red.
Kevin Streelman: Right, MC last year, got it but T10 in 2018 followed T18 in 2017.