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Favorites, Longshots, Fantasy Plays and Our Picks to Win at Sanderson Farms and the Scottish Open

By: Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads

The 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship returns to The Country Club of Jackson for the eighth time, where all previous winners have carded scores better than -15.

It’s a shorter course, with ample opportunities for birdies, highlighted by four par 5s playing a combined one under par. It’s a course where ball strikers should thrive and players who aren’t good putters can still put up low scores. Since 2014, suspect putters such as Nick Taylor, Luke List, Corey Conners, Cameron Champ, and Sebastian Munoz have either won or finished in second. Important statistics for this weekend:

Par 5 Performance

Greens in Regulation (GIR)

Short Par 4 Performance

Strokes Gained: Approach (SG:APP)

Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG:OTT)

Fairway % Gained

With an entirely Bermuda grass course, getting the ball into the fairway is a player’s best chance at birdie, and this isn’t a course where spending a round fighting to save par is going to win. That being said, it’s a wide-open layout, with some trees and water but very little native area, and even wayward tee shots should be fairly easy par saves. It’s a course where it’s hard to play yourself out of contention with some crooked-number bogeys, and players who can string together a bunch of birdies with a few slip-ups will perform well.

The Country Club of Jackson

PICK TO WIN

 

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER 

He’s the favorite this week, and we believe it’s justified. He’s one of the best ball strikers on tour, gaining 1.749 strokes per round with his tee shots and irons. Averaging 305 yards off the tee, he also has the distance required to set up very short approach shots on the seven short par 4s, and should be able to reach the green in two on all four par 5s, where he gains a best-in-field 0.163 strokes per hole. While our model gives him the best chance to win this week, it only predicts a 4.25% chance. Low-scoring tournaments with low variance don’t allow for the best players to run away with a tournament.

OTHER FAVORITES WHO COULD TRIUMPH

CAMERON DAVIS

Like Scheffler, Davis is a ball striker who hits it long off the tee. While he hits fewer than 60% of fairways, Davis has the length required to balance out hitting from the rough. His best holes are par 5s, where he gains 0.126 strokes per hole, while also performing better on short par 4s than long par 4s. Our model loves him this week and gives him a 2.84% chance of winning and a 21% chance of finishing inside the top 10.

CHARLEY HOFFMAN

Par 5s, short par 4s, and low-scoring courses. That’s what Hoffman does best. He gains 0.107 strokes per par 5, 0.045 strokes per short par 4, and plays easy courses almost a full stroke gained better than difficult courses. Hoffman can get into some trouble with his tee shots, where he’s wildly inaccurate, but like Davis has the length required to make up for hitting into the rough, averaging over 300 yards per drive.

LONGSHOTS WHO COULD SURPRISE

J.B. HOLMES

Holmes has only played twice since the restart, but looked back in form his last time out at the Safeway Open, where he gained 3.66 strokes with his approach shots. Like Hoffman, his driving accuracy leaves a lot to be desired, and if this course featured a lot of long par 4s we’d have a big X over Holmes’ name. But on a shorter, par 72 course he’s the type of golfer we like to back. 

JONATHAN VEGAS and WILL GORDON

When thinking about excellent ball strikers who have a tendency to be abysmal on the greens, Vegas and Gordon might as well be one bullet-point. They’re both excellent off the tee, hitting a high rate of fairways and averaging around 320 yards per drive en route to averaging more than 0.400 SG:OTT per round. However they both lose a ton of strokes on the greens. We backed Gordon last week as well, and he promptly three-putted twice and four-putted once in his opening round, all but eliminating him from contention. On a different surface this week, we’re hoping the putting woes don’t continue.

FAVORITE DRAFTKINGS GPP PLAYS

Scottie Scheffler ($11,400)

Will Zalatoris ($10,200)

Brian Harman ($9,400)

Cameron Davis ($8,100)

Charley Hoffman ($7,900)

Hudson Swafford ($7,300)

J.B. Holmes ($7,000)

Adam Schenk ($6,700)

Wesley Bryan ($6,300)

SCOTTISH OPEN PICKS

Played at The Renaissance Club, which also hosted the Ladies Scottish Open in August. The course has been redesigned with thicker rough and added length, and it’s unclear how the scoring will be this week, but it’s almost guaranteed to be more difficult than last year, which saw a playoff between two players at 22 under par.

MATTHEW FITZPATRICK

As we saw at the Ladies Scottish Open, fairways are absolutely paramount at the new Renaissance Club, where the rough has been allowed to essentially become native area. Fitz hits them at a high rate while also performing best on long par 4s and par 5s. The course suits him well, and if it plays difficult, we like him even more. Our model gives him a 6.37% chance to win.

CHRISTIAAN BEZUIDENHOUT

Another player who excels on difficult courses, Bezuidenhout should be able to utilize his excellent short game to save par when others are settling for bogeys. We give him a 3.55% chance to win and greater than a 25% chance to finish in the top 10.

GAVIN GREEN

With five top 20s in his last seven tournaments, Green comes into the Scottish Open in excellent form. His best holes are par 5s and long par 3s, which are seven of this course’s holes. We really like where his game is at heading into this week.

 

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