This week sees Jackson CC host the Sanderson Farms Championship for the second time. Last year we were going in blind here but a strong link to Donald Ross designs, and Sedgefield in particular, emerged: "I love it when people come up to me and say, 'I played that course and I had better be thinking when I'm out there. I need to go play that again. I can do better on that hole.' That's what it's all about." - The words of course re-designer John Fought whose methods he admits are similar to the "great Donald Ross".
Indeed, scoring last season was almost identical to that of Sedgefield for the Wyndham Championship in 2015. It was a relative unknown at the time, Nick Taylor - 81.00, who emerged victorious and he returns to defend his crown. Seven-under 65 was the best round recorded (twice).
Running in conjunction with the WGC HSBC Champions, it means the field for the Sanderson Farms will be weak despite Fedex Cup points being on offer. The highest ranked player teeing it up is Brendon Todd - 34.00 - at #57 and a number of Challenge Tour grads and relatively inexperienced PGA Tour players head the betting. Jason Bohn - 13.00 - comes in as favourite, highlighting a great opportunity for the theme of recent rookie winners to continue.
The Course - CC of Jackson
The dominant stats on the leaderboard following the inaugural CC of Jackson edition of the Sanderson Farms were total birdies and greens in regulation. Three of the top six players found themselves ranked in the top five for both those stats over the week. The track plays 7,354 yards to a par of 72 and finding the right part of the fairway to position yourself nicely for the best approach angle into shaven, bunker protected sloping greens with run offs - ala Donald Ross designs - will be key. Dog-legs are a feature and smart, more positional players may prevail; those that played last year will definitely have the advantage.
Three from the pack
Smylie Kaufman may have done the business at the Shriners but it's his good friend Patton Kizzire - 23.00 or 5.50 - who is on top of many golf aficionados' ones to watch list in 2015/16. Kizzire blitzed the Webcom Tour money list last season. The Auburn man was married just a few weeks ago but played the Shriners a week later and hit a final day 63 to secure a T2. Patton was 2nd in the all-round, lead the putting and Birdie average stats and ranked 8th in GIR on the Webdotcom Tour this season.
William McGirt - 26.00 or 6.00 - is the standout selection this week. The set up of Jackson CC fits his game perfectly and he proved this with a T7 here last year, ranking 7th in birdies and leading the GIR watch. McGirt is what you would describe as a player decent in all aspects but outstanding in none, although he did rank an eye-catching 26th in proximity last year. He's an experienced played that enjoys this type of test and I'm going to revert back to the Sedgefield link: He was T14 there a few months back but co-lead after round one following an opening 62. He was T8 the previous season at the Wyndham Championship shooting two rounds of 64 in the process. McGirt went low again last time out, closing with a 62 for a top 10 at the Shriners.
Third on the Radar is Kevin Streelman - 41.00 or 9.00 - who also looks to have the type of game to excel around Jackson CC. Streelman can be a birdie machine as he showed when making seven in a row en route to winning the Travelers Championship in 2014. Kevin is showing progressive T41 - T16 form this season and ranked 13th for GIR at TPC Summerlin. Streelman ranked 16th in Total Driving and 13th in Ball Striking throughout 2015. He was 25th in Greens in regulation.
Again revisiting the Donald Ross theme here and Carl Pettersson - 51.00 or 11.00 - is a Sedgefield course specialist and member. He always features at the Wyndham Championship and the former winner of that event recorded yet another top 10 there a few months back. Purely on price I can't leave him out in this field given the Donald Ross link.