Betting market and overview
This week sees the Country Club Of Jackson host the Sanderson Farms Championship for the 3rd time running. The last two renewals in my opinion have seen a strong link built with Donald Ross designs, and Sedgefield in particular. Total birdies and greens in regulation have been a dominant theme and if we look at last year's leaderboard it is filled by many of the finest putters on the Tour, so those hot with the flat stick will be the main profiling target here. In 2014, three of the top six players found themselves ranked in the top five for both the aforementioned GIR and total birdie stats over the week
He said: "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, by his own admission, are inspired by the "great Donald Ross".
Running in conjunction with the WGC HSBC Champions, it means the field for the Sanderson Farms will be weak despite 300 Fedex Cup points being on offer. The highest ranked player teeing it up is Chris Kirk at a lowly no. 74 in the world rankings. Last year we saw a theme of maiden winner throughout the old "fall series" events and this can be a great time to get one-up on the bookies, especially if you've been doing your homework on the Webdotcom tour. No less than 45 from the 50 graduates will tee it up here and it's always interesting to see how they go.
Patton Kizzire was on rookie watch this time last year at Jackson CC and Kizzire is exactly that top class putter we are looking for. Patton ended up T4 one year ago, and he only narrowly missed out on a win last week at the Safeway Open to kick off the new season when Brendan Steele rallied to pip him at the post. Kizzire is my man to beat this week at 15.00. The big guy was 2nd in strokes gained putting at the Safeway Open.
CC of Jackson will play 7,421 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 the aforementioned Donald Ross design link - will be key. Dog-legs are a feature here and smart, positional players should come to the fore again. The premium will be with the flat stick. Scoring has been pretty much identical to Sedgefield in the first two editions and many of the same players feature on the leaderboards. Roberto Castro opened with the current course record 62 here in 2015. Keeping the ball under the hole and avoiding the short side is also important here.
I'm going completely with the theme of hot or streaky putters and backing some experienced tour pros this week and the most obvious one of these is David Toms - 29.00 or 6.50. He's the man with the form on the track with a top 10 in 2014 followed by a runner up finish last year. Toms is also a Sedgefield course specialist. The veteran knows how to plot his way around this type of course and leave his ball in the right positions with his smart tee to green game. Toms was 11th in driving accuracy last season.
Next up is Ian Poulter - 29.00 or 6.50 - whose best attribute by far is with the flat stick when in full flow. Poulter has got back into the teeth of it straight away after injury and came back with progressive T28 and T17 finishes. He opened with a 64 in Macau in his first competitive round in some time, and was impressive in elite company at the CIMB Classic where he closed with a 67 to post the top 20. If he gets into contention, his mental toughness might be hard to beat for many in this relatively inexperienced field.
Russell Henley - 34.00 or 7.50 - led the tour in total putting in 2015 and excels in putts made from short to mid range. He missed the cut at the Safeway Open but had been out of competitive business for a while, and rounds of 69-73 are hardly a disaster. Early season can be hard to predict but Henley is a level above this field with two PGA Tour wins already under his belt. When he gets it rolling he can make birdies in streaks, and he looks a decent price here.