Like many of these early season events, the Sanderson Farms has proved a happy hunting ground for first time winners in recent years.
With many of the game’s biggest names tending to rest this time of year, it is a chance for some of the game’s emerging talent to shine and they have grabbed the opportunity with six of the past eight champions making this their first Tour win.
That certainly wasn’t the case last year, however, with 2017 Masters Champion Sergio Garcia claiming his first PGA Tour title in the three years since that playoff victory at Augusta.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Spain’s Sergio Garcia held on to win his 11th PGA Tour title in 2020, claiming a one shot win over 2016 champion Peter Malnati who closed with a 63.
COURSE: After the visual feast that was the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, The Country Club of Jackson in Mississippi will be a much more familiar look for regular PGA Tour watchers.
RIGHT: Spanish superstar Sergio Garcia claimed the title and unique trophy in 2020. And despite a starring role at the Ryder Cup, will tee it up this week. PHOTO: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images.
Featuring less of the wild landscape on show in Wisconsin and more of the manicured aesthetic preferred by the Tour, the course has proved a decent test of the field since it began hosting this event in 2015.
While it would be unfair to be overly critical of the course, it is also difficult to find any genuinely interesting architectural features.
Built on predominantly flat land, the challenge at Country Club of Jackson is found mostly in the form of length, trees, water hazards and bunkering.
At a tick over 6,800 metres this is not a course to be enjoyed by the average amateur (certainly not from the tournament tees) and is in the top third of longest courses on Tour.
However, this presents little in the way of scoring challenge for a field of this quality with the wining total usually well into double digits under par.
Only one of the four par-5s on the course is considered unreachable for the bulk of the field, the 560-metre fifth boasting a scoring average of 4.8, high for a par-5 on a Tour course.
Two of the course’s par-3’s play less than 200 yards though, interestingly, three of the four average over par for the tournament.
The course’s self-proclaimed signature hole is the par-4 16th, a particularly demanding affair requiring both a good tee shot and a long second, even for the pros.
With a scoring average over 4, the hole often plays a role in determining the outcome of the event with no lead considered safe until it has been successfully navigated.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: It’s not surprising the quintessential PGA Tour course suits the quintessential PGA Tour player and long hitters enjoying a good week with the putter are favoured here.
Coming a week after the Ryder Cup and a rare off week for the Tour, there is no immediate form to draw on so picking specific players is a little more difficult than most weeks.
However, Australia’s own Cameron Davis will be worth a look as he not only fits the modern Tour player profile nicely but shared the lead into the final round here last year.
It’s been a full month since his last start at the BMW Championship in the FedExCup finals though rust likely won’t be an issue.
Davis has steadily built an impressive resume since arriving on the Tour and his maiden win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last year seems likely the first of many.
Davis aside, Tour rookie Mito Pereira impressed in the season’s first event at the Fortinet Championship in California two weeks ago where he finished solo third.
Many who watched his play on the secondary Korn Ferry Tour last year – where he earned promotion to the main Tour in June on the back of three victories – believe Pereira is a star in the making and these early season events have historically proved a happy hunting ground for players in that position.
He led the Strokes Gained Tee to Green category in California and is no stranger to the top of the leaderboard with three top-6 finishes in his last five PGA Tour starts.
72-HOLE RECORD: American Scott Stallings set the record to par with his win in 2012 at the then True South Classic coming courtesy of a 24-under total. However, Canada’s Dan Hallodorson holds the aggregate mark of 263, set in 1986 when he defeated Paul Azinger by two shots.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: No Australian has won this event.
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Brett Drewitt, Cam Davis and Lucas Herbert.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 6am – 9am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 6am – 9am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 7am – 10am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 7am – 10am)
*AEST/AEDT, check local guides