Each week in our golf power rankings, we will highlight the top players on the PGA TOUR in order of likeliness to win the tournament.
Factors at play on the rankings are (in no order):
- Recent form: How the player has performed in various aspects of his game in recent weeks.
- Course history: How the player has performed at the host course if he has played there in the past.
- Course fit: Used as a secondary or backup to course history, fit looks at certain skills that translate to success on the host course.
- Strokes gained: Strokes gained will come into play in all of the factors above. Unless otherwise noted, strokes gained stats are taken from the player’s last 50 rounds and are a way to use golf statistics relative to the field and round played.
Using the guidelines above to create a statistical model, value can be found in the betting market by highlighting players whose outlook for the tournament may be flying under the radar to the general public.
The weighted model this week includes:
- 20% Driving Distance
- 15% Birdies or Better Gained
- 15% SG: Approach
- 15% SG: Putting
- 15% Opportunities Gained
- 10% Proximity 100-125 Yards
- 10% SG: Par 5
This Week: Sanderson Farms Championship
- Date: September 29 – October 2
- Location: Jackson, Mississippi
- Course: Country Club of Jackson
- How to watch: GOLF Channel, ESPN+
- Purse: $7,900,000
- Defending champ: Sam Burns
Golf Power Rankings: Sanderson Farms Championship
20. Gary Woodland (): Doesn’t have a whole lot of form as of late, but we know Woodland is one of the more accomplished players in this field. Only played here once, but tracks he can bomb it around and get hot on Bermuda seems to be his best chance of winning at this point. Ranks 22nd in SG: APP.
19. Chris Kirk (): Kirk was one of the Tour’s more consistent players early in the year, but he really began to fade as the season went on. Maybe a bit of a break will do him well, because he tends to be lethal on Bermuda courses where you need a consistent ball striker. Had a 9th and 2nd here in 2013 and 2016. Ranks 33rd in Opportunities Gained.
18. Seamus Power (): Another player who should quite frankly be higher on this list, but he really struggled at the end of the season with some disastrous ball striking and putting. We know Power can catch fire on Bermuda greens, and he does have a solid history here even when he was half the player he is now. Ranks 14th in Proximity: 100-125 Yards.
17. Brendan Steele (): Don’t want to quite give up on the veteran just because of a surprisingly bad week at Fortinet. He putted terribly, something he does plenty of, but the ball striking still appeared to be fine. Bermuda is always the one surface he shows some life on, so he could get it going in Jackson. Ranks 3rd in Opportunities Gained and 3rd in SG: APP.
16. Christiaan Bezuidenhout (): His last tournament logged on Tour was a 12th at the BMW where he gained an outrageous 9.4 strokes on the greens. That putter has been scorched with flames as of late, and there’s a chance he’ll come in with confidence after the Presidents Cup … something we saw from some Internationals in 2020. Ranks 8th in SG: P.
15. Sebastian Munoz (): Another player coming from the Presidents Cup who could especially come in confident after taking out World No. 1 in singles. He’s also been another who had been struggling late in the season, but we know Munoz gets hot quickly … and it was here in 2019 he got his only PGA Tour win. Ranks 14th in SG: APP.
14. Keegan Bradley (): Bradley, like so many others in these rankings, was playing nicely earlier in the year, but he really lost his path late in the season with some uncharacteristic poor iron play. It’s something I don’t expect to keep up for one of the best ball strikers on Tour, so look out if he finds it at all this week. Finished 4th here in 2020. Ranks 18th in Opportunities Gained.
13. Alex Smalley (): Smalley had a decent little rookie season and figures to be a steady player on the PGA Tour for a while. I’m not quite sure the upside is there for him, but there are occasional weeks he find the irons and putter both and can contend on a decent leaderboard. Bermuda seems to be the one surface he likes, and he did hit it nicely here last year. Ranks 9th in SG: APP.
12. Wyndham Clark (): Clark is a putting specialist who hits it long off the tee, something that can obviously go on quite nicely here. His issue tends to be the irons, which have been very bad as of late. If he can manage a positive week with the ball striking, this is a course he could win at. Ranks 4th in Distance and 13th in SG: P.
11. Matthias Schmid (): The promising rookie showed some life at Fortinet before really losing it on and around the greens through the weekend. He has an elite skillset in his ability to drive it long and get really hot with the irons, so you can expect to see him on here plenty more throughout the year. Ranks 11th in Opportunities Gained and 12th in Birdies.
10. Emiliano Grillo (): Grillo was liked heading into Fortinet and looked to show some life earlier in the week before some mediocre play dropped him to 25th. Still, most of the game is looking solid … except for his irons that are usually his strongest skill. If he captures the elite irons we expect from him, he could really be dangerous with the putter looking good. Ranks 2nd in SG: Par 5 and 4th in Birdies.
9. Davis Riley (): Continues to grade highly in the models due to his play during the summer when he was on absolute fire with the ball striking. Unfortunately, that has disappeared as well as of late, but it’s really the putter we should be worried about. If he can figure that out, he can contend again with his talent. Ranks 1st in Opportunities Gained and 6th in the model.
8. Trey Mullinax (): The winner at Barbasol will likely enjoy heading back down south again as he also finished 5th at the BMW to make a charge in the playoffs. He’s really hitting it well right now with his usual great distance off the tee. I’m really intrigued by a potential breakout year from him. Finished 4th here last year. Ranks 1st in Birdies and 5th in Distance.
7. Adam Svensson (): One of the Tour’s most capable iron players, Svensson is one who really becomes interesting when the putter is decent. He often times struggled to combine the irons and putter last year, but if he does, he’ll be hard to beat. Not sure this is the best track for him, but he makes plenty or birdies. Ranks 3rd in Birdies and 12th in Proximity: 100-125 Yards.
6. Sahith Theegala (): Looked like a real threat all week at Fortinet but never managed to make a charge on the weekend to really get in contention. We’re all expecting a huge year for the second-year pro, and this is a course he looked great at last year when finishing 8th. Love the course fit for him. Ranks 4th in SG: Par 5.
5. J.T. Poston (): Always a threat on Bermuda, Poston finished 3rd here in 2020. He had a great 2022 season by making the Tour Championship and playing decently in Atlanta. He was fantastic through most of the summer and should be thought of as one of the favorites in a weak field on Bermuda. Ranks 3rd in SG: Par 5 and 7th in Birdies.
4. Russell Henley (): Just like Poston, Henley is always going to be scary when he’s playing on a Bermuda course that won’t overpower him. While he doesn’t possess the power we like here, his ability with the irons and on Bermuda greens easily outweighs that. He looked like his usual self at Wyndham after dealing with a weird year. Ranks 1st in SG: APP and 2nd in Opportunities Gained and Proximity: 100-125 Yards.
3. Scott Stallings (): Stallings finished 6th here in 2020 and is another who plays well in this weaker fields on Bermuda courses. He’s plenty long off the tee and really had all of his game clicking through most of the summer. The only concern here is that while Stallings impressively made it to the Tour Championship due to his 2nd at BMW, he lost an appalling 12.9 strokes on approach in Atlanta. Ranks 6th in Proximity: 100-125 Yards and 9th in Birdies.
2. Thomas Detry (): Detry might be a rookie on the PGA Tour, but any hardcore fans will know him for his great play on the European Tour the last few years. He really has everything you could ask for in his game, and I do believe he’s better suited for the style of American golf courses. Played lovely at Fortinet and would have contended with a better putter. Ranks 10th in Distance and SG: P and 2nd in the model.
1. Sam Burns (): There’s not much to say here. The defending champion is quite easily the best player in the field and seems to really love this course. He possesses all the skills you want here and feels extremely hard to bet against. Ranks 1st in the model, 2nd in Birdies and 3rd in SG: P.
*All stats are from a player’s last 36 rounds.
Course Preview: Country Club of Jackson
The PGA Tour gets back to regularly scheduled programming in its 2022-23 season after taking a rare three weeks off in a four-week span for a short offseason and The Presidents Cup. The Sanderson Farms Championship has been a mainstay on Tour since 1968 and now resides as one of the first events on the schedule after it flips following the Tour Championship in early September. The Country Club of Jackson has hosted the event since 2014 and has become quite popular as the fields have improved in recent years. This will be the fourth year in a row now that the Sanderson has now been played as a full-field, standalone event on the schedule.
Last week’s Presidents Cup gave us an interesting week that features a ton of young, under-the-radar international players due to the amount of talent that was unable to play due to leaving to the LIV Golf tour. In what was expected to be a complete blowout due to the amount of American talent and the youth of the international team, the internationals showed some incredible fight on the weekend to make it a contest. The U.S. won 17.5 to 12.5 in the end, but players like Tom Kim and Sebastian Munoz showed their worth in an entertaining Presidents Cup.
The Country Club of Jackson is a Par 72 at more than 7,400 yards played on Bermudagrass in the heart of Mississippi. John Fought did a re-design in 2008 to the 18 holes of the 27-hole course for the Sanderson particularly and incorporated many classic Donald Ross techniques. What was once a fairly simple track now holds small, raised, undulating greens that will keep players on their toes all week.
Fought’s redesign has really opened the course up to a variety of different styles that has often made it a very entertaining tournament even if the biggest names aren’t involved. The statistic that leads to success here that is the least volatile is easily Driving Distance. These narrow fairways surrounded by very light rough makes distance king in Jackson. There’s no reason not to be aggressive, and with the fairway rate being so low for everyone, you might as well hit it long to get an advantage into the greens. We’ve seen some huge hitters in Sam Burns, Sergio Garcia, Cameron Champ and Cody Gribble win here recently.
Once the bombers hit it long off the tee regardless of if it’s straight or not, Jackson’s Donald Ross styled greens make hitting accurate approaches a key as always. Scrambling hasn’t been predictive of success here, so instead of relying on scramblers, we want guys who will have to scramble less. In addition to SG: Approach, we’ll look at Opportunities Gained like we do many weeks to highlight the players that are hitting it inside 15 feet for birdie more regularly than most. These greens are very manageable and giving yourselves shorter looks will lead to a ton of birdies. While it’s not in the model, simply finding a lot of greens has correlated to success more here than at most courses on Tour.
The key proximity range I’m looking at this week is 100-125 yards. Like we’ve mentioned, players are aggressive off the tee here and often leave themselves in a very manageable range that will allow them to hit wedges into these trickier complexes. We want the best wedge players who will provide themselves tons of opportunities throughout the week from this range.
With the Sanderson probably turning into a winning score close to 20 under, Birdies or Better Gained is a good stat to look at to see the players who have been making more birdies than their competitors in each tournament.
The Par 5s in Jackson are actually some of the hardest on the PGA Tour based on relation to par the last few years. The winners have played them very strongly, so we’ll be looking at SG: Par 5 to see who has been taking advantage of Par 5s. We saw Burns play them at 11 under last year, and Garcia played them at 9 under in 2020 including a spectacular eagle on the 14th that helped him secure a win. Those with higher ball flights will have a nice advantage on these perched greens on the 5s.
Finally, a hot putter is always a bonus when scores are going to be low. And the Sanderson has seen a ton of scorching hot putters come out on top in the past. The tricky part is quite a few of those guys weren’t necessarily good putters overall – for example, Champ’s insane putting in his 2018 win. We’ll look at putting a bit more than usual this week, but as always it can be tough to predict. One good thing to look at specifically this week is players who have fared well on Bermuda greens and not just recent putting form since most of that would have been on Bent greens.
The field this week has taken a massive step back from the last few years due to a variety of reasons. One, the Tour has certainly lost a bit of talent to LIV Golf at this point and will need to establish some new names in their place. Also, the Presidents Cup players have mostly decided to take the week off and likely tee it up at the Shriners next week in Las Vegas. Sam Burns will be the headline player in the field as the defending champion. He’s ranked No. 12 in the world.
Up next on TOUR
The PGA Tour will head out west to Las Vegas, Nevada for the Shriners Children’s Open in the desert. TPC Summerlin will again host the event, but for the first time since 2019, we won’t see a multiple-week swing in Vegas. We should expect to see some pretty big names making their debut for the season at a tournament that has given us some really entertaining weekends in recent years. Sungjae Im will defend his title as the No. 19 ranked player in the world.