After a European blowout win at the Ryder Cup, the PGA TOUR marches onward this week to its second official event of the year. The Sanderson Farms Championship has been a mainstay on the Fall schedule for some time now and has been a great jumping-off point for many young or up-and-coming players. Sebastian Munoz won his first PGA TOUR event here in 2020, while Cameron Champ did the same the year before. Last season, Canadian Mackenzie Hughes was able to pick up the second PGA win of his career and also became the fourth player under 30 years of age to win the event over the past four seasons.
It’s the week after the Ryder Cup, so, as you would expect, the field is missing most of the top players. At 35th in the OWGR, Emiliano Grillo isn't just the highest-ranked golfer in the field, he’s also the only player inside the top 50 of the OWGR playing this event. We do have some young talent, though, that will make this week exciting to watch. Ludvig Aberg is making the trek over from Italy and will be attempting to grab his first PGA win this week (he won on the Euro Tour last month) and is the event favorite at +1200. We also have young PGA winners Akshay Bhatia, Davis Riley, and Lucas Herbert in the field.
This week is also a return to regular, full-field event rules and will feature the regular PGA cutline, which sees the top 65 players (and ties) go on to play the weekend.
Country Club of Jackson — Jackson, Mississippi
Par 72, 7,460 yards
The Country Club of Jackson has hosted this event since 2014. The venue isn’t overly difficult as it has seen winners reach between 17 and 22-under-par here the last five seasons. The venue features some of the purest greens on the PGA and has multiple scoring holes where birdie or better will be expected. In a lot of ways, it sets up very similarly to the first Fall venue we saw in Silverado, where players with strong driving metrics would be expected to have an advantage with four par 5s in play.
Jackson is a typical parkland venue with trees lining many of the fairways. Playing from out of the rough here can be somewhat problematic in terms of sight lines to the pin on your second shot, and in that way, it does also remind us a little of venues like Colonial and Hilton Head — where placement can sometimes be more important than power. Not every hole is claustrophobic off the tee, however, and players can still opt for driver on plenty of tee boxes.
The pros at Jackson only average about 54% in the Driving Accuracy department — which is six to eight percent lower than the PGA TOUR average — but you only have to look at the list of recent winners to realize that you don’t have to be arrow straight to win at Jackson (Champ, Burns, Munoz). The greens are a decent size and relatively easy to hit, with GIR percentages at Jackson tending to be 2-4% higher than the seasonal average for the pros. It’s also worth noting that the last five winners all ranked outside the top 30 in driving accuracy for the week of their win — but four of the last five winners have also gained +3.5 strokes or more off-the-tee for the week (Burns gained over +6.0 strokes OTT in 2022, while Highes actually lost strokes off the tee in 2023).
The Bermuda greens at CC of Jackson almost always run pure this time of year, and that’s been reflected in the stats. Past winners have tended to putt the proverbial lights out, with five of the last eight winners here ranking fifth or better in SG: Putting for the week of their win. Sam Burns certainly bucked this trend two years ago when he shockingly got to 22-under par despite losing strokes putting, but Burns more than made up for it by gaining an ungodly 14.1 strokes ball-striking. Last year, Mackenzie Hughes gained a solid 3.6 strokes putting and another 4.6 strokes around the greens to make up for his poor off-the-tee play. While Burns’ week could certainly be repeated by another elite ball-striker this week (Aberg anyone?), in general, players will need to roll it well on the greens to really have any shot at going low enough to win.
Finally, as a parting note, it’s worth remembering that the course carries four very scorable par 5s, three of which play between 550-600 yards. The 2018 winner, Cameron Champ, played those holes at 12-under-par the week when he won, so efficiency on these holes will be a huge benefit.
2023 Weather Outlook: Despite being held in late September, this event can still see temperatures get quite steamy. The event starts off with highs in the 90F range on Thursday, but it will cool off as the week progresses. Thursday looks almost perfect with low wind throughout the day, so there may be a small advantage to early starters simply because the greens will be more receptive. There is a little bit of wind expected on Friday afternoon (6-9 mph), so again, leaning towards the a.m. wave would be ideal. That said, this isn’t a spot where you need to worry about wave stacking much. The difference in scoring is likely to be minimal so if you like a player, the best idea is to just go ahead and roster him.
Last 5 winners
(2022)—Mackenzie Hughes -17 (playoff over Sepp Straka)
(2021)—Sam Burns -22 (over Cameron Young -21)
(2020)—Sergio Garcia -19 (over Peter Malnati -18)
(2019)—Sebastian Munoz -18 (over Sungjae Im playoff)
(2018)—Cameron Champ -21 (over Corey Conners -19)
- Six of the last 9 winners have all been first-time winners on the PGA TOUR.
- Four of the last nine winners were not full-time PGA TOUR members in the previous season.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
Mackenzie Hughes (2022 at -22)
· The Country Club of Jackson has hosted this event since 2014; before Garcia and Burns won in 2021 and 2020, each of the past five winners from 2016 to 2020 had gained +6.2 strokes or more putting for the week of their win.
· Driving distance for this event has about matched the PGA TOUR average over time, but hitting fairways at this venue has been tough, with players averaging around 54% Driving Accuracy.
· Strong off-the-tee play has been beneficial, as four of the last five winners here have all gained +3.8 strokes or more off-the-tee.
· The course blends a lot of longer approaches with short ones, as 125-150 yards and less than 200 yards are the two most popular approach distances here from past events.
· Burns torched the course in 2022 with elite ball-striking that saw him gain over 14.0 strokes OTT and on APP combined. Most winners at this venue will have to be positive with the flat stick, so just keep that in mind as there are not many players in the field this year capable of matching what Burns did.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Scott Stallings ($7,200; best finishes: T6-2021, T13-2022): The veteran ranks third in strokes gained total stats at this venue over the past six years and has been a solid performer for the most part. He’s made the cut in four of his last five starts at Jackson, returning good value for DFS last season with a T13. He comes in having made the cut in his final two starts of the previous season.
2. Kevin Streelman ($7,600; best finishes: T4-2020, T10-2018): Streelman is worth a look this week as the field is mostly devoid of top-end talent. He’s grabbed top-10 finishes at Jackson in two of his last five starts at this event and at just $7,600, probably carries better upside than many players in his range. He played in the first fall event (Fortinet) but struggled on the weekend.
3. Henrik Norlander ($6,700; best finishes: T4-2021 and 2020): Whenever a guy finishes top five at the same event two years in a row, he deserves a shout-out. Norlander is far from a consistent player but has proven himself to be a good target at Jackson on multiple occasions. He’s putted extremely well on these greens and makes for a good GPP target on his course history alone.
4. Emiliano Grillo ($10,100; best finishes T5-2023): Grillo has been a constant at this event, having made the trek out to Jackson in each of the past four seasons. Grillo’s made the cut at Jackson in each of those starts and showed off with a T5 at this event last year, gaining 3.4 strokes putting for the week.
5. Cameron Champ ($7,300; best finishes: win-2019): Champ will be starting at Jackson for the first time since 2020. The American grabbed the first win of his career at this event in 2019 but has fallen on tough times from a form perspective of late. He’ll be looking for a better result after missing the cut at the Fortinet.
1. Ludvig Aberg ($10,900; T10/win/T4): Aberg may break the record for ownership this week in big-field GPPs. He’s coming off a scorching stretch of play and his distance off the tee is going to play great on a course with four par 5s.
2. Eric Cole ($10,300; T4/T25): Cole leads the field in strokes gained total stats over the last six events. The veteran is still looking for his first PGA win and gained 7.5 strokes ball-striking in his last start at the Fortinet.
3. Sam Ryder ($8,500; T14/T31/T38): Ryder played well at the Fortinet (T14) and has gained over 5.0 strokes on approach in each of his last four starts. If his putter heats up, he’ll contend.
4. Martin Laird ($7,100; T19/T58/T2): Laird has been under-the-radar consistent of late and has a very good record in the fall series. With his putter working, don’t be shocked if the veteran shows up with a big week again.
5. Dylan Wu ($7,600 - T14/T51/T5): Wu has really taken a step up over his last few starts. The American has been killing it on the greens, gaining over five strokes putting in each of his last three starts. He’s still relatively cheap for DFS in this weaker field as well.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Aberg a must
Yes, there is always the chance that a Ryder Cup hangover affects young Ludvig Aberg ($10,900) and causes a middling week that ruins his DFS output. We can’t play for maybes, though, and Aberg is so clearly the most talented player in this field, so much so that you could argue he’s a few hundred dollars underpriced. If he picks up where he left off in Europe (winning events, beating the best American players 9&7), not having him will result in massive pain. In terms of value lower down, Sam Ryder ($8,500), Martin Laird ($7,100), and Dylan Wu look like great recent form candidates. Garrick Higgo ($8,100) is another name who has better upside than his price indicates and would make for a good pairing with Aberg, regardless of format.
Tournaments: Jaeger the pivot up top
There is no doubt that Stephan Jaeger ($10,400) is a little overpriced this week relative to his overall PGA results (no wins or runner-ups) and career arc (mainly played on KF Tour). That said, everyone else realizes the situation with Jaeger and that will likely allow him to be somewhat under-owned in larger fields (or that’s the hope anyway). When it comes down to it, Jaeger is still one of the best in birdie or better percentage (6th over the last 24 rounds) in this field and if Aberg falters, his actual win equity is likely as good as anyone else’s in this range. Further down, there is also the talented Davis Thompson ($8,200) who nearly won last season in Palm Springs and the enigmatic Alex Noren ($7,800), who may be feeling some Ryder Cup envy/pride this week. Other potential GPP pivots include David Lipsky ($7,500), Grayson Murray ($7,300), and Brandt Snedeker ($6,700).
MY PICK: Callum Tarren ($7,500)
This event has favored strong ball-strikers who also have shown the ability to get red-hot with their putter — even if we don’t classify them as the most consistent putters on the PGA. Tarren fits the bill in both regards this week as the Englishman comes into this week with solid recent form that has him ranked 6th in strokes gained off the tee stats, 25th in strokes gained approach stats, and 2nd in strokes gained tee to green stats — over the last 24 rounds of play.
In short, Tarren is playing inspired golf right now and is likely being a touch underrated by his current +5500 odds on the DraftKings Sportsbook, where he makes for an interesting outright target. The emphasis on strong off-the-tee play this week really does play to his strengths as that’s an area of the game where he’s outperformed the field on a regular basis, gaining over 2.0 strokes off the tee in six of his last nine starts. While it’s firmly narrative-based, I also like the idea of taking an Englishman the week after the Ryder Cup.
Much like last season when Mackenzie Hughes won — and had just watched his fellow countrymen compete at the President’s Cup — I expect Tarren to be a little more motivated after seeing Europe win back the Ryder Cup in Italy.
MY SLEEPER: Chesson Hadley ($7,200)
Hadley is an interesting prospect for betting and PGA DFS. His results don’t jump off the page but it is worth noting that he’s made 6 of his last 7 cuts so his recent, week-to-week consistency is better than it has been for most of his career. The American played in the first fall series event (a nice bonus) and while he only managed a T62, it was mainly some poor around the green work (-5.7 strokes ATG) that sunk him.
Otherwise, Hadley has been playing well. He’s shown a lot of confidence with his putter across a vast array of surfaces, gaining 1.8 strokes or more now in five of his last six starts and his approaches have been elite in two of his last three starts — he gained 4.7 strokes on approach at the Fortinet. Hadley has had success in this portion of the USA previously, having finished runner-up at Jackson back in 2017, and also has a runner-up from the 2021 Palmetto Championship, — which was played a couple of states over in South Carolina.
With such a weak field on tap, if he shores up his short game, you have to like his chances of spiking for a good week, making his $7,200 for DFS well worth the gamble in bigger field GPPs.
For betting, his strong putting also makes him a solid top 20/40 candidate on the DraftKings Sportsbook.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.