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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sanderson Farms Championship - Power Ranking and One and Done

The Sanderson Farms Championship is set to break in the Country Club of Jackson as the host venue this week, and here is a power ranking of players that should enjoy the layout.
  1. Kevin Kisner – Coming off a T4 at The McGladrey Classic, the South Carolina boy with a University of Georgia education should feel right at home in Mississippi. He’s moved himself onto the short list of players that should be the conversation for a breakthrough win, and a weak field like this one is the perfect place to realize that potential. Ranks inside the top 50 in both par 4- and par-5 scoring average.
  2. Hudson Swafford – In his rookie season of 2013-14, he proved to be a solid ball-striker but a poor putter. If the first three tournaments of the new season are any indication, he may have found something with the flat stick. He went T8-T18-T12 in his first three events and ranks 20th in GIR, 10th in ball-striking, 32nd in Proximity, 33rd in par-4 scoring average and 30th in par-5 scoring average. Spent essentially his entire life in Florida and Georgia (UGA), so the climate and turf in Mississippi should be quite comfortable.
  3. Andrew Svoboda – Offers a nice trend, going MC-T18-T8 in the first three events of the season before missing the CIMB Classic. He’s also 26th in par-4 scoring average. If you’ve been reading me for any length of time, you know that’s a stat in which I place a ton of emphasis.
  4. Ben Martin – The off week (didn’t go to CIMB) came at a great time. On the heels of his first win (Shriners), he posted a solid T17 at The McGladrey Classic. He should be an excellent fit for this course and one of the classier players in a weak field. We shall see quickly enough if he’s in hangover mode or ready to compete. My hunch is that he gives it a solid go at CCofJ.
  5. Tony Finau – Perhaps one of the more pleasant surprises of the Fall, Finau started hot with a T12-T7-T14 run. It’s no secret that his game in predicated on power, and ranks fourth in par-5 scoring average, but he’s converted that power into ranking a very solid 34th in GIR.
  6. Robert Streb – Speaking of par-4 scoring average, he’s a dream. He tied for sixth in that category in 2013-14 and had me drooling when he fell to me in the ninth round of my season-long draft a little over a month ago. He has improved to fifth this season and is fresh off his breakthrough win. Like Martin, last week was a good time for a break and he should be ready to go in Jackson this week.
  7. Cameron Smith – If he had only tied for fifth in the CIMB Classic last week, with no other green flags, he would have been easy to overlook. Digging deeper, he’s finished inside the top 10 in his last seven worldwide starts. Granted, most of those have come in weak events, but this isn’t exactly a top-tier group gathered in Jackson this week. If you’re looking for a favorite for this year’s Jordan Spieth (2013) or Brooks Koepka (2013-14), he may be your guy.
  8. Peter Uihlein – Like the aforementioned Spieth and Koepka, Uihlein was tabbed to be one of the guys that played his way onto the PGA TOUR at some point. While it didn’t happen in either of the last two years, he enters this event off a T9 in his last start and has made eight consecutive cuts overseas with a bunch of them resulting in top 30.
  9. Scott Piercy – Classy player in a field without much, followed up a missed cut at the Frys.com Open with a T7 at the Shriners and a T17 at McGladrey.
  10. Andrew Putnam – Was the 36-hole leader at the Shriners before fading into a share of 33rd. He proved to be a quick study, rebounding to share 12th in Sea Island the very next week. That’s a lot of moxie for a rookie.
  11. Fabian Gomez – Tied for fifth in par-4 scoring average, which is part of the reason he was able to share eighth at The McGladrey Classic.
  12. Nick Watney – Two years ago, he wouldn’t have even considered playing in an event like this. Heck, he would have been in the field at the WGC-HSBC Champions. His T16 to start his season in Vegas was a positive start, but his MDF in Sea Island a week later was a reminder that he’s still sorting things out.
Next 5: (Alphabetical): Paul Brown, Ken Duke, John Peterson, Brendon Steele and David Toms

As for the one-and-done, the small purse ($4M with $720k to the winner) dictates swinging for the fences. A tie for 23rd by a player barely moves the needle. So, if you want to take a risk, this is the tournament for it.

I’m going with Hudson Swafford this week. If he putts well, he’ll be dangerous. His form is as good as it has ever been and he is clearly in a great frame of mind. Kevin Kisner was a close second, but his 100th ranking in GIR was enough to miss the final cut. I could easily endorse almost anyone in my top 12 and next 5 this week.

Best of luck to all this week!

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