SANDERSON FARMS CHAMPIONSHIP: From a controversial Ryder Cup in Rome to a nondescript Fall Series event in Jackson, Mississippi… such is the way of professional golf, and for supporters of an American team that bordered on embarrassing in both actions and performance, it’s a comforting return to normalcy.

As Mississippi’s only PGA Tour event, this tournament is well-supported by the local community and has developed a reputation for a friendly, players-first atmosphere, which is one of the reasons why the field is a bit stronger than some other Fall Series events. The course, the Dick Wilson-designed Country Club of Jackson, is a fairly straightforward test that generally yields lots of birdies. A par-72 that measures some 7,460 yards from all the way back, it’s tight in spots and the sticky Bermuda rough should be avoided, but the greens are large, the par-5s are easy, and there isn’t much severity off the tee. It’s a course that can be conquered by a variety of different styles, and in the last few years we’ve seen winners of this event range from short-and-straight types like Ryan Armour to bona fide bombers like Cameron Champ and Sam Burns. Mackenzie Hughes got the job done last year as a triple-digit longshot, and that’s been a recurring theme here– 7 of the past 8 winners of this tournament have started the week at 70/1 or longer, so we shouldn’t be afraid to throw some well-reasoned darts.

Young Ludvig Aberg is the only player to make the trip from Rome to Jackson and he heads BETDAQ’s Win Market at 14.5, but as mentioned, top-of-the-market favorites have not fared well at this event. With that in mind, here’s what I’m thinking:

WIN MARKET

Recommendations to BACK (odds in parenthesis)

S.H. Kim (35.0)- It’s been a career-changing year for the 25-year-old Kim, with nine top-25 finishes in 33 starts and full playing privileges locked up for the ’23-’24 season. He’s coming off his best finish on Tour, a runner-up showing at the Fortinet Championship two weeks ago, and he played quite well in his tournament debut here last year, finishing T13, so he definitely knows his way around the CC of Jackson. Kim is one of only a handful of players to rank in the top-50 in both strokes gained off-the-tee and strokes gained putting last season, so his game doesn’t have any obvious weaknesses, and he’s always done his best work on Bermuda-covered courses like the one he’ll see this week. At better than 30/1, Kim is worthy of serious consideration.

Mark Hubbard (78.0)- Hubbard is a journeyman who is still searching for his first PGA Tour victory, but he’s been getting closer, logging five top-10s last season and breaking into the top 100 of the World Golf Rankings. He’s been playing especially well lately, finding the top-20 three times in his last six starts, with two top-10s in that span, and he’s coming off a T17 at the Fortinet last time out. He’s played this tournament several times and broke through last year with a career-best 5th-place finish, a performance which could’ve been even better had it not been for a final-round 74. Given his current form, I won’t be the least bit surprised if he finds himself in contention again on Sunday, and it’s only a matter of time until Hubbard closes the deal and finds the winner’s circle. He’s my favorite bet on the board this week at a price like 78.0.

Scott Stallings (108.0)- After a terrible stretch over the summer that included seven consecutive missed cuts at one point, Stallings is finally starting to put it together again and play some solid golf. He’s made the cut in his last three starts, including the Fortinet Championship two weeks ago, where he played three excellent rounds before coming undone with a Sunday 75. He should have some good vibes heading into this week because he nearly always plays well in this tournament, making the cut in 5 of his last 6 appearances and finishing 13th last year and 6th in 2020. Stallings also has three career victories to his credit, so he’s proven that when he has it rolling and gets a scent of contention, he can close the deal. He’s a great value at better than 100/1.


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