2022 Sanderson Farms Championship Preview
ONE of the brightest talents on the PGA Tour will return to defend his title at the Sanderson Farms Championship this week.
Last year, Sam Burns rolled off four birdies in a six-hole stretch to start the back nine and pulled away for a five-under 67 to secure his second PGA Tour title. And he is back, fresh from helping the USA to retain the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow.
Burns is 26. He was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and turned professional in 2017 and is one of the brightest prospects on the PGA Tour. He actually made his Tour debut in this event five years ago. In 2018 he joined the Web.com Tour and won the Savannah Championship and gained his PGA Tour card.
In February 2021, he finished third at the Genesis Invitational. He held the solo lead at the end of each of the first three rounds but was ultimately caught on the back nine during the final round. In May last year, Burns won the Valspar and two weeks later finished runner-up at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
His second success came at the Sanderson Farms Championship 12 months ago and he has since won twice more, including overcoming a seven-shot deficit to beat Scottie Scheffler at the Charles Schwab Championship.
His victory at Jackson 12 months ago saw him take control with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 13th, a 5-iron to 15 feet that set up a two-putt birdie on the next hole and then a perfect pitch from behind the green on the reachable par-4 15th for a tap-in birdie.
With a two-shot lead on the final hole, Burns finished with a bogey to secure a one-shot win over Nick Watney and Cameron Young, who finished the 2021-22 season as rookie of the year.
Watney, coming off his worst season in more than a decade, closed with a 65 and had his best finish in more than three years.
Young's hopes began to fade on the 14th with a poor shot from the rough into a fairway bunker that led to him having to make a four-footer for bogey.
He made a great up-and-down from off the 18th green for par that gave him a 68 and a share of second, which set him up for the season. “I love being in contention, I love feeling the nerves, so it was fun. I enjoyed it, even though it might not have looked like it,” Young said. “I knew Sam was ahead of me and I had to make a couple and just didn’t, but I will another time.”
Sahith Theegala, the California rookie who began the final round with a one-shot lead, had control of the final round until he reached the back nine.
Theegala is another who went on to have a fine first season. This was his first top-10 finish but he would go on to finish third at the Phoenix Open, seventh at the Valspar and second at the Travelers Championship. The only thing missing from the 24-year-old's CV is a victory and that surely won’t be long in coming.
The tournament was won in 2015 by Peter Malnati, in 2016 by Cody Gribble, in 2017 by Ryan Armour, in 2018 by Cameron Champ, in 2019 by Sebastian Munoz, in 2020 by Sergio Garcia and last year by Sam Burns
The Country Club of Jackson was designed by Dick Wilson and opened in 1914. It was subjected to a major redesign in 2008. It is a par 72 that measures 7,421 yards. The fairways are quite narrow and are heavily tree-lined.
Sam Burns. On the crest of a wave
Sahith Theegala. Magnificent ball striker
Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Gifted South African
Five to Follow:
Sam Burns. A future world number one
Sahith Theegala. Maiden victory won’t be long in coming
Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Great short game
Aaron Rai. Did well to retain his card and now looking to kick on
Ben An. Has struggled but showing some form
Five Outsiders to Watch:
Thomas Detry. Has the game to win anywhere - but has yet to do so
Chad Ramey. One to keep an eye on this one
Garrick Higgo. Desperately trying to rediscover his best form
Chris Kirk. Has laid his demons to rest
Joseph Hanko. Bright prospect
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