After a week at Quail Hollow for the Presidents Cup, the PGA Tour heads down to Jackson, Mississippi, for the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Let's be honest: the field includes defending champion Sam Burns but otherwise is not strong. So, it's likely we'll see a fresh face – maybe even a rookie – hoist what, in my opinion, is the best trophy in golf (see above; no, it's not real ... I think).
The Country Club of Jackson has favored different types of champions from Sergio Garcia and Cameron Champ to Peter Malnati and Ryan Armour, but relative to other Tour venues, this course favors guys who have length but are also great putters (or get hot with the putter), particularly on Bermudagrass.
No wonder Burns won here a year ago. As we saw at Quail, the guy has the swing of a god and can make it from anywhere.
So, starting with last year's winner, here are my top 10 players to watch – plus a sleeper – for this week's Sanderson Farms Championship:
1. Sam Burns: The defending champion is by far the top-ranked player in the field at No. 12 in the OWGR. The next best player is Sepp Straka at No. 36. He’s a Bermuda wizard and his game was built for CC of Jackson, but he’s been a little hit-or-miss here, with a win and T-3 but also a MC and two finishes in the 40s. Will there be a Presidents Cup hangover? He’s still the favorite for a reason.
2. Taylor Montgomery: Forget the rookie designation; Montgomery is one of the hottest players in the world with five straight top-10s, including four top-4s, between the KFT and PGA Tour. It says a lot about a guy when he had to wait an extra year to get on Tour – he was one spot away twice via KFT points, both regular season and Finals, in 2020-21 – yet he comes out in his first start as a Tour member and places solo third in Napa. He’s a Vegas native, so Jackson isn’t exactly a comfortable spot, but he’s as good a course fit as there is. He led the KFT in putting during the super season before ranking third this past year.
3. Denny McCarthy: One of the Tour’s best putters – he’s ranked either first or second in strokes gained in three of the past four years – McCarthy has feasted on these Bermuda greens in recent trips. In his past four SFC starts, he’s not placed worse than T-18 with two top-10s. He’s cooled off since a hot June/July, but coming back to Jackson will get him right.
4. Scott Stallings: He was on fire to end last season, as he notched four straight top-13s heading into the playoffs and then used a runner-up at BMW to get to East Lake. This is his first start since, and it comes at a course where he was T-6 two years ago.
5. J.T. Poston: Coming off his first trip to the Tour Championship, confidence is at an all-time high for the Postman, who we know delivers on Bermuda. Overlook last year’s missed cut here as it was during a string of eight straight MCs. He was third the year prior.
6. Sahith Theegala: He’ll be a popular first-time winner candidate every time he tees it up this season – until he wins, of course – and there’s a lot to like about him at a place where he was T-8 last fall. He’s two weeks removed from a T-6 in Napa, so he’s playing better than he was at this time last year. And his recent move to Houston has him getting more practice on these grasses.
7. Wyndham Clark: He’s not done anything here since a solo 17th in 2018, making two of four cuts with no top-50s in that span. But he’s been trending with 10 made cuts in his last 11 starts, a run that includes two top-10s. Plus, he has that combo of length and putting – had a great putting week in Napa (third in SGP) – that you need at CC of Jackson. Don’t be shocked at all if he’s in contention.
8. Thomas Detry: It’s easy to confuse him with Thomas Pieters, a fellow Belgian and Illinois alum, but mark my words: Detry will make a name for himself this season as a rookie. He’s already off to a good start, tying for 12th in Napa after a top-5 at Wentworth.
9. Harris English: A hip injury knocked him out for 20 weeks at the start of this year, but he’s slowly been building his way back to the form that made him a Ryder Cupper last year. His T-9 in Napa marked his first top-10 since the injury, and now he’s back on Bermuda and on a course where he was T-6 the last time he played (2020).
10. Dean Burmester: Fellow South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout is a Presidents Cupper and one of the world’s best on and around the greens, but have you seen Mean Dean drive it? If the putter shows up, which it’s done a few times in recent starts, he could be contending in his SFC debut.
Sleeper: Joseph Bramlett. He checks all the boxes for a guy who isn’t on the first page of favorites. He rolled through the KFT Finals with three top-25s and then was T-12 in Napa. He’s made two straight cuts in Jackson, too. It will all come down to putting. He’s a driving machine, but he was No. 193 in SGP on Tour last season. It’s worth a dart throw that Bramlett’s putter catches fire this week.