The Sanderson Farms Championship got a boost in status from the PGA TOUR this season as it's no longer an alternate-field event. However, it now has the honor of facing off against the European Tour's flagship event.
As a result, the field strength gets a slight boost year-over-year but the superstar talent is still missing.
The field will reach 156 golfers once the Monday Q is complete and the top 65 and ties will make it through the 36-hole cut line. As we already saw last week, that can have a big impact on fantasy lineups.
The Country Club of Jackson will play host of this event which has been true every year since the event moved back to the fall in 2014.
The course is a par 72 that plays just under 7,450 yards.
It's a classical design that features tree-lined corridors with fairways that are tough to find (field averages around 55%). From there, golfers aren't punished too heavy in most cases as the field still manages over 12 greens in regulation per round.
There are just three par 4s over 450 yards so golfers can lay back if you desire but many youngsters have opted for a more aggressive approach here by hitting more drivers. Both strategies can pay off if executed correctly.
More than two-thirds of the holes are guarded by a pair of greenside bunkers and water comes into play on six or seven of the holes. That water isn't a huge factor as we can tell by the low rate of doubles or worse here. Overall, it's a very generous scoring environment although gamers shouldn't expect to see a lot of eagles landed.
For grasses, we are back to bermudagrass from wall-to-wall so comfort in the South is a big deal this week. The greens typically run at least 12 feet on the stimp so they are on the speedy side of the spectrum.
Sifting through some past quotes, let's try to break down the course to see how it will play.
Cody Gribble: "being in the South, growing up on Bermuda fairways, Bermuda greens, it’s something difficult, I think. It’s not a comfortable feeling when you’re having to hit a chip that all that grain is tight going into you. That’s something I’ve been able to learn from a young age"
Lucas Glover: "I grew up in the South, grew up on Bermuda fairways, grew up with Bermuda rough, and the greens I grew up on weren’t quite this good Bermuda, but still pretty darned good."
Ian Poulter: "the greens are pure. They are very, very grainy, but they’re quick and dry. Provided you leave yourself opportunities uphill, you can have a lot of looks for birdie, so it’s about getting it in play. It’s paramount around this golf course, and you’ve got a lot of opportunities with quite a few wedges in your hand"
Norman Xiong: "the fairways are narrow, but you have a wide margin to miss it to where you can still hit it out of the rough onto the green or middle of the green. "
Cameron Champ: "[When asked about his second shots into the par 5s] I hit 8-iron into 3; I hit 4-iron into 5; 11 I hit 8-iron; 14 I hit 6-iron."
Overview: Golfers talk about their comfort on bermuda. These greens are grainy and quick. Keeping it in the fairways it important but Xiong talked about still being able to find the middle of the green from the rough. Champ showcased what kind of advantage length can be on the par 5s here at CC of Jackson.
Looking at grass types, geography, course attributes, and past performance, here are a few courses/events that I think could prove to be a good pointer this week:
Quail Hollow (Wells Fargo)
Torrey Pines (Farmers)
TPC Summerlin (Shriners)
PGA WEST (American Express)
TPC Sawgrass (PLAYERS)
We are looking at a lot of classical, tree-lined courses. Anything with fast greens or bermuda saw an uptick in correlation, as well.
Thursday: Sunny with a high of 75 degrees. Winds at 7 MPH.
Friday: Sunny with a high of 80 degrees. Potential for morning gusts with winds around 9 MPH most of the day.
It's still too early to make a call but the Thursday Morning + Friday PM wave would look to have a huge advantage if things started right now. Keep an eye on that situation.