The PGA Tour has two events going on this week: The WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi.
One year ago, in Jackson, Ryan Armour managed to win his first PGA Tour event – in his 105th start – edging Chesson Hadley by an impressive five strokes.
The Sanderson Championship is a tournament that has been very kind to first-time Tour winners. Could that trend continue in 2018?
To get some insight, we reached out to three caddies who are on the ground there and asked for their three, respective favorites.
In order to protect their identity, the caddie picks have been made anonymously. Give a look at who they like and the reasons (hilarious, in some cases) why.
- Tom Lovelady, “A win is the only thing that gets him out of the 126-150 category. This is his first start of the year. He should be excited to play this week as he was left hanging as first alternate in Napa. His length will help him take advantage of the par 5s and get lots of wedges in his hands on the par 4s.”
- Sungjae Im, “I’m going to keep picking him every week until he shows any sign of cooling off, which he hasn’t shown this entire year. One of the most consistent players on any tour in 2018. Hits it very straight and makes lots of birdies, which is a good formula anywhere but especially Sanderson Farms as the winning score is usually pretty low.”
- Scott Stallings, “Once a very streaky player but showed a lot more consistency last year. Works hard off the course and makes a bunch of birdies on it. He is a great closer when he gets a sniff of the lead. If he’s up there on the weekend, he knows how to get it done.”
- Bill Haas, “Going with veteran motivation and momentum here after Bill finished with a top-10 in Napa in his first tournament of the new season after a difficult ‘17-18 for many reasons. A native of the Southeast region and perennial Tour winner, Haas surely will be as comfortable as the food and very used to the drawing accents and Bermuda grasses. On a straightforward but strong course that requires steady play, the humble BMOC has everything necessary to be in contention late on Sunday.”
- Ryan Blaum, “Missed the cut at ‘The Farm’ last year but has been in the mix here before with a T11 in 2016. The definition of a reliable plodder, if Blaum is in play like usual and lets his premier putting ability heat up on CCJ’s perfect greens, he could run away with the ‘Bronze Chicken’ just like Ryan Armour did last year and Cody Gribble the hatch before. Throw into that soup the fact that he’ll presumably have veteran looper Shane Joel on the bag, who caddied Peter Malnati into the 2015 winner’s circle here, and Ryno deserves ‘strong to quite-strong’ consideration.”
- Seamus Power, “The Irishman is back to CCJ for the third time — hopefully for more reasons than just to complete the trifecta of player registration gift choice of either the ‘Green Egg’ grill, set of 3 YETI coolers, or custom fire pit. In fact, Seamus, or See-Muss as he’s known in the South, is a horse for the course having recorded T28 and T18 finishes in his only two starts, both with undesirable Sundays. A closer look at the numbers shows Power has played well enough in a better-ball of the two years to get to the -18 average winning score… which you could also argue is meaningless… so he will be confident on the grounds. For those not liking the above picks, one could take a closer look at the players on this caddie’s flight from Atlanta to Jackson –Jonas Blixt (first-class), Denny McCarthy and J.T. Poston — and like their chances, too. Good luck!”
- Ryan Armour, “This guy is playing really well this year. This golf course requires good tee shots to avoid the rough to help control distances. Ryan is one of the best drivers of the golf ball on tour. Look for him to have four steady rounds in the 60s. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he’s the defending champ.”
- Aaron Baddeley, “Coming off a top-10 finish in his last start, look for Baddeley to keep the momentum going at the Sanderson Farms Open. He has had success at this course and with Aaron’s great putting ability he will be able to shave shots on the subtle breaking Bermuda greens in Jackson.”
- Cameron Champ, “This rookie is the longest hitter on Tour. He drives the ball good enough to take advantage of his length at the tree-lined course in Jackson. This should be a pitch and putt for the big hitter with the ability to take it real deep. Look for ‘Champ’ to be the champ at the Sanderson Farms Championship!”