With the 2022 Presidents Cup now in the rearview mirror, the 2022-23 PGA Tour schedule resumes this week with the Sanderson Farms Championship. The Country Club of Jackson has been the host of the Sanderson Farms Championship since the event moved to Mississippi in 2014.
Serving as the second "swing-season" event on the PGA Tour calendar, the 156-man field for the 2022 Sanderson Farms Championship is unsurprisingly underwhelming. Defending champion Sam Burns, fresh off making his Presidents Cup debut, comes in as the strong favorite at +1100. JT Poston (+1600), Denny McCarthy (+1800), Sahith Theegala (+2000), and Russell Henley (+2200) round out the group of players currently listed below 25/1.
While the top of this week's betting board is thin, there are currently 17 players jampacked between 28/1 and 50/1. Christian Bezuidenhout (+2800), Keegan Bradley (+3500), Emiliano Grillo (+4000), Davis Riley (+4000), Harris English (+5000), and Sepp Straka (+5000) are several notable players from that range.
Founded in 1914, the Country Club of Jackson serves as a par-72 and ranges just north of 7,400 yards with Bermudagrass greens. While the yardage might suggest that this is a bomber's paradise, many different player types have found success at this event in recent years.
For example, Cameron Champ, winner of the Sanderson Farms Championship in 2018, is known for being one of the longest players on tour. Champ had an average driving distance of 321.4 yards in 2022.
However, just one year prior to Champ's victory in Jackson, Ryan Armour was the man who took home the iconic Rooster trophy. Armour is a notorious fairway finder off the tee box and averaged just under 300 yards in driving distance in 2022.
The recipe for success at the Country Club of Jackson is both complex and simple at the same time. There are many ways to get the job done, but a strong tee-to-green game is necessary, along with a cooperating putter. The winning score tends to fall around 20-under par, meaning that a player needs to make a lot of birdies to have a shot at the title.
Looking at the scorecard for this week, a fair amount of the distance will be made up in the four par 5s and four par 3s. Three of the par 5s will play over 580 yards, with one of them (No. 5 — 612 yards) being a three-shot hole. Two of the par 3s range over 210 yards as well.
Out of the 10 par 4s on the course, seven of them will play shorter than 450 yards this week. There isn't a ton of danger on the par 4s at the Country Club of Jackson, and capitalizing on these scoring opportunities is a major key to victory.
Strokes Gained: Off The Tee
Greens in Regulation Percentage
Strokes Gained: Putting (Fast/Lightning Bermuda)
Par 4s Gained: 400-450 yards
Strokes Gained: Par 5s
2021: Sam Burns (-22)
2020: Sergio Garcia (-19)
2019: Sebastian Munoz (-18)
2018: Cameron Champ (-21)
2017: Ryan Armour (-19)
Sahith Theegala (+2000)
Theegala nearly picked up his first PGA Tour victory a few times last season, with one of them coming at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Theegala held at least a share of the lead in every round heading into Sunday before falling to a T8 finish. With a full season on tour now under his belt, the Pepperdine product should be ready to take the next step.
Theegala wrapped up last season on a high note by playing his way into the Tour Championship and finished T6 at the Fortinet Championship two weeks ago. Sahith has been playing well as of late and has a great chance to capture that elusive first win this week.
Davis Riley (+4000)
One of the betting angles I am taking this week is backing the young talent. Before Sam Burns and Sergio Garcia's wins the last two years, the Sanderson Farms Championship had been quite kind to PGA Tour rookies and up-and-coming players. Several first-time winners have broken through at the Country Club of Jackson, and I think Riley, a Mississippi native, undoubtedly has the talent to get the job done in this field.
Riley also meshes well with what's required to win this week. The 25-year-old ranked 41st in SG: Off-The-Tee, 50th in SG: Tee-To-Green, and 16th in birdie average in his first full season on the PGA Tour.
While Riley's putter has been cold in recent events, he's also shown the ability to bounce back with a spike week several times in the past. If Riley can figure out these fast Bermuda greens, he possesses the full skillset to come out on top.
Emiliano Grillo (+4000)
After failing to crack a top-20 finish in 22 of his first 23 events, Grillo managed to turn things around late last season. Grillo posted two T2 results at the John Deere Classic and 3M Open, boosting him into the BMW Championship.
Perhaps no one fits the mold for this week better than Grillo, as the 30-year-old Argentinian leads the field in SG: Off-The-Tee and is fifth in Total Strokes Gained: Par 5s in the past 24 rounds.
Grillo has also suddenly fixed the putting woes that have plagued him throughout his entire career. Dating back to the John Deere Classic last season — also the start of Grillo's turnaround — he's now gained on the greens in six consecutive events. Grillo hasn't accomplished that feat since 2018, suggesting he's in rare form heading into this week.
Brendan Steele (+6500)
Steele finished sixth in SG: Off-The-Tee and 16th in greens in regulation percentage last season on the PGA Tour. Among all players in the field this week, Steele ranks fourth in SG: Off-The-Tee and first in SG: Approach in the past 24 rounds.
Can he make enough putts to win? I'm not sure — but Steele's tee-to-green game has been too good recently to pass up this number.
Hayden Buckley (+13000)
Buckley picked up the best result of his young PGA Tour career last season at the Sanderson Farms Championship with a T4 finish.
The 26-year-old Mizzou grad ranked 13th in SG: Off-The-Tee and 15th in greens in regulation percentage as a rookie last season. Buckley is also second among all players in the field in SG: Off-The-Tee over the past 24 rounds.
Having a solid tee-to-green game is needed to contend on this track, and Buckley has proven that part of his skill set is immaculate.