Sanderson Farms Championship 2020 expert picks: Why this favorite will (finally) get his first win
Sam Burns has the attention of our handicappers this week—can he earn his first tour victory?
After some serious gloating after our U.S. Open hit on Bryson DeChambeau, the gambling gods bit our experts back at the Corales. Our tour caddie was ready to gloat, texting us on Saturday as Adam Long looked like he was on his way to cashing our tickets. But winning on tour is hard, and so is cashing outright golf winners, lest we forget.
Longshots and first-time winners tend to succeed at the Sanderson Farms Championship, with Sebastian Munoz (60-1 in 2019), Cameron Champ (65-1 in 2018) and Ryan Armour (100-1 in 2017) as your recent winners. Fall winners tend to fall in the long-shot range, too, so our experts have their sights on picking the right winner—like they did in predicting 14 of the tournaments correctly in the 2019-’20 season.
Our experts, like every week, include a PGA Tour caddie offering his insights anonymously; betting handicappers Pat Mayo of DraftKings and Mayo Media Network; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; Lee Alldrick of FanShareSports.com; and us two knuckleheads.
There is some serious steam on a couple of these mid-range players looking for their first tour victory. Which one is worth your money? Read on to see our Sanderson Farms Championship 2020 experts picks and best bets.
Sanderson Farms Championship 2020 Expert Picks To Win (Odds from PointsBet)
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Chris Kirk (90-1) — How about this for a feel-good story? Oddsmakers might not remember Kirk finishing runner-up here in 2016 (and a ninth-place at Annandale back in 2013)—but believe me, Chris arrives on site this week knowing this is his chance to find the winner’s circle once again. Don’t be surprised if he contends this week. He had really good proximity stats here in 2019 from 125-200 yards, a crucial range. A hot putter and this could be his week.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Dylan Frittelli (40-1) — The South African dominates the key par-4 range from 400-450 yards, gained a gaudy 11 strokes on approach shots at Country Club of Jackson last year en route to a sixth-place finish and has showcased stellar ball-striking the past two months.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Scottie Scheffler (10-1) — I never really back the favorite, but Scheffler is a bit too good and outperformed his posted odds in my simulations. The gap between Scheffler and Sungjae Im and Will Zalatoris is too great to ignore. Because I’m going with Scheffler here, it’ll be a light overall card with a lot of long-shots to round it out. I just don’t see any real value in the 27-1 to 50-1 range.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Sam Burns (22-1) — Burns has been in contention often lately, and it’s time that he captures his first PGA Tour title. He’s trending in the right direction, finishing T-13 at the Wyndham Championship, T-7 at the Safeway and T-28 at Corales last week. The great run goes back further than that for Burns—per the RickRunGood.com database, no golfer in this field has gained more strokes per round on average than Burns since the restart. Not only that, but he’s gaining strokes in all four major categories. His game is great and well-rounded, and it’s about time he captures a victory.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Lucas Glover (50-1) — I will absolutely be betting Sam Burns, but Lucas Glover is worth a look at this number. Look at his results at Country Club of Jackson: 22nd (2014); 39th (2015); fifth-place (2016); 24th (2018) and MC (2019). The MC last year came after an abysmal Tour Championship showing in his previous start, so he was clearly off. In those other results, he gained an average of seven strokes on the field tee-to-green. On our BE RIGHT podcast this week, GUP from Gup’s Corner explained why he’s one of his picks, too. Gup is sharp, and I’m gonna get behind Glover to find the winner’s circle.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Luke List (40-1) — After a quiet August, List has rounded back into form. A poor final round spoiled an otherwise solid week at the Safeway, and he quickly bounced back with a T-8 at Corales, which featured a lackluster pair of 71s on the weekend. Like Cam Champ and Sebastian Munoz, the past two Sanderson winners, List can feast off the tee at Country Club of Jackson. It’s just going to come down to him converting his opportunities, which he’ll have plenty of.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Sam Burns (22-1) — There’s so much to like with Burns. He ranks seventh in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking, and in addition to great finishes recently, the stats point to him sustaining this: He’s sixth in strokes gained/putting on fast, Bermuda greens in this field, and he’s 20th in Opportunities Gained and 25th for strokes gained/tee-to-green. That’s a complete game ready to earn Win No. 1.
Results from last season: Golf Digest's betting panel predicted 14 winners correctly last season, and collectively on outright winners, top-10 bets and matchups won and lost, our panel went up 225.30 units (the equivalent of being up $2,253 if you wagered $10 on all of our bets) last season. We correctly picked Bryson DeChambeau (28-1) to win the U.S. Open, and we’ve come close with Adam Long at the Corales and Doc Redman at the Safeway. Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!
Sanderson Farms Championship 2020 Expert Picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (odds from PointsBet)
Caddie: Rob Oppenheim (200-1) — The career journeyman is coming off three straight made cuts and gained more than five strokes on approach at the Safeway Open. He’s steady Eddie—hit a bunch of greens and you could have a great week at Country Club of Jackson.
Mayo: Henrik Stenson (50-1) — On name value, Stenson is the best player in this field. And the Swede seems committed to finding his game during the swing season after that long five-month break. Sure, there’s no recent form to back, but he did just grind out a top 25 in Puntacana and owns wins at Bermuda tracks like TPC Sawgrass, East Lake and Sedgefield.
Gdula: Talor Gooch (80-1) — Gooch has two top-30 finishes at the Country Club of Jackson, including a 14th, and he has been really good tee-to-green in them. Further, over the past eight events with strokes-gained data, Gooch has added at least 4.6 strokes on approach alone.
Gehman: Davis Riley (125-1) — It’s rare for me to go this deep down the betting board, but Riley offers such a uniquely positive situation that it’s difficult to pass up (you can find a better number at other books, though some, like PointsBet have adjusted from initial 200-1 offerings). Riley is a winner, capturing two victories on the Korn Ferry Tour this year and piling up top-10s along the way. He’s third on the KFT in “All-Around Ranking” and second in Birdie Average. He’s only played a handful of PGA Tour events in the past few years, but one of them was last season’s Sanderson Farms Championship where he finished T-39. As a Mississippi native, Riley should be very comfortable at the Country Club of Jackson for this week’s event.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Cameron Davis (50-1) — You’re forgiven if you haven’t noticed Cameron Davis’ stellar play of late. Per Rick Gehman’s RickRunGood.com database, he’s one of two players in this field to gain strokes in all four major strokes-gained categories since the restart (including Sam Burns). The Aussie is long off the tee and trending toward his first tour win—which would join the six previous Sanderson Farms winners earning their first victory at Country Club of Jackson.
Powers, Golf Digest: Beau Hossler (100-1) — The Hoss missed six—count ‘em—SIX straight cuts to begin the restart, but has since made three straight. The highlight was a T-23 at Safeway, where he followed an opening-round 73 with rounds of 65, 69 and 67. He’s putting out of his mind right now, as he often does (6.5 strokes-gained/putting at Safeway, 5.1 at Northern Trust). This week he’s on Bermuda, one of his favorite surfaces (Hossler ranks sixth in this field in strokes gained/putting on Bermuda over the past 50 rounds, per Fantasy National). If he can just be mediocre with his irons, he’ll have enough birdie looks to give himself a chance.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Charley Hoffman (60-1) — Hoffman quietly has two top-15 finishes in his past three events, and you’re catching him at a course he has experience on, finishing in the top 35 in two tries. He ranks 11th in our course-suitability ranking for his success at corollary courses (Golf Club of Houston comes to mind), so this is worth a stab.
Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Henrik Stenson (50-1) — Henrik Stenson is still catching up to the rest of the field in terms of his competitive reps since the restart. It’d be a lot to expect of him to win in just his fifth start—anywhere in the world—since March.
Mayo: Zach Johnson (30-1) — Not actually a terrible pick, it’s just a terrible price. With his driving so up and down, he would need a field-leading week with the irons and putter to come out on top. I can say the same about Jason Dufner, who’s 125-1.
Gdula: Byeong Hun An (30-1) — I’m actually a pretty big Ben An fan, but datagolf’s database shows that putting has been key to this event the past few years—more than usual on the PGA Tour. If this is going to come down to putting, I know one place near the top I don’t want to look, and that’s with An, who ranks 131st in Bermuda putting over the past 100 rounds, via FantasyNational.com.
Gehman: Corey Conners (33-1) — Conners is notorious for being one of the better ball-strikers on tour, but his recent results haven’t provided much support for that claim. He’s missed four of his past six cuts including a very disappointing missed cut last week in the Dominican Republic. He doesn’t have a top-15 finish since the Sony Open in January. My bigger concern is that we’ve had a few players describe the Country Club of Jackson as a “putting contest,” where most players hit approaches to 15-20 feet and the golfer who makes the most putts will win. Conners ranked 181st on tour in putting last season, so it’s bad news for him if this turns out to be a putting contest.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Adam Long (33-1) — Though Long was my one-and-done pick last week on the great call by our anonymous tour caddie, we saw his game fall apart a bit on Sunday, and he admitted so in an honest piece he did with our Brian Wacker. To rebound the next week to win is a tall ask—I’d rather come back to him on a course better suited for his game.
Powers, Golf Digest: Byeong Hun An (30-1) — This pains me, because Benny An is one of my all-time favorites. But he’s missed two of his last three cuts, and last I checked, he still can’t putt. The only way to bet Benny is at 70-1 or higher. 30-1? No way. Of course, I’d be thrilled to be wrong.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Doc Redman (30-1) — Redman already looks to be popular this week, however, after poor returns at similar courses we have him ranked very low in our course-suitability ranking. He also struggles when putting on fast Bermuda greens, ranking just 91st in the field in strokes gained/putting on this surface.
Sanderson Farms Championship 2020 Expert Picks: Matchups
Caddie: Scottie Scheffler (-125) over Sungjae Im (DraftKings) — Since the tour restart, Sungjae Im has not quite been himself. He’s had a couple good finishes lately, but he hasn’t contended just yet. Scottie Scheffler, meanwhile, has been one of the best players in the world. That form doesn’t just disappear after two weeks sitting out with COVID. I’m willing to lay this number.
Mayo: Dylan Frittelli (-130) over Carlos Ortiz (DraftKings) — Ortiz has been sneaky good at the Country Club of Jackson in the past, but so has Fritelli. And he enters with much better form.
Gdula: Sebastian Munoz (-105) over Sam Burns (FanDuel) — I like both of these guys this week, but the long-term data is better for Munoz, and a lot of the matchups are tight. I’m trusting the larger sample from Munoz, last year’s winner.
Darren Carroll/PGA of America
Sebastian Munoz is one of the favorites as the defending champion this week at the 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship.
Gehman: Sam Burns (-118) over Corey Conners (DraftKings) — Per the RickRunGood.com stat engine, Burns is one of only two golfers in this field to 1) gain at least one stroke on the field per round since the restart and 2) gain in all four major Strokes Gained categories. That illustrates that he’s been excellent and well-rounded without being propped up by a single facet of his game. He’s had success at Country Club of Jackson, making the cut in all three trips and finishing third two years ago. Conners finds himself struggling, failing to make the cut in four of his past six starts.
Hennessey: Doc Redman (-115) over Adam Long (FanDuel) — I love the Sam Burns over Corey Conners call, so I’ll be taking that. But I also like fading Adam Long, so I’m liking this bet, too. I caught an early 45-1 Doc Redman number Monday before his odds shot way down. To me, he has more reliable ball-striking numbers than Adam Long, who was more of a play last week due to his success on coastal courses.
Powers: Sam Burns (-118) over Corey Conners (DraftKings) — Conners has struggled a bit the last few weeks, missing back-to-back cuts. And one of those weeks he actually putted well, which is not his strong suit. I’ll take the hot hand here in Burns, who is the Bermuda king.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Charley Hoffman (+100) over Carlos Ortiz (Betway) — Hoffman is my dark-horse pick for this event for the reasons listed above. Oritz on the other hand, is coming in in poor form ranking 85th in strokes gained/tee-to-green over the past two months and 92nd in Opportunities Gained, per FantasyNational.com.
Matchup Results from the Corales: Mayo: 1 for 1 (Xinjun Zhang (-110) over Bo Hoag); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Thomas Detry (-110) over Matthias Schwab); Hennessey and Powers: 1 for 1 (each picked Sam Burns (-110) over Charles Howell); Alldrick: Sam Burns (-112) over Corey Conners; Caddie: 0 for 1; Gdula: 0 for 1.
Matchup Results this season: Alldrick: 3 for 3 (up 2.60 units); Gehman: 2 for 3 (up 0.82 units); Hennessey: 2 for 3 (up 0.76 units); Mayo: 2 for 3 (up 0.74 units); Caddie: 2 for 3 (up 0.73 units); Powers: 1-1-1 (even); Gdula: 1 for 3 (down 1.09 units);
Sanderson Farms Championship 2020 Expert Picks: Top 10 (odds from FanDuel Sportsbook)
Caddie: Nick Taylor (+850) — Taylor earned his first tour victory here in the first year at Country Club of Jackson, and he owns 26th, 23rd and 20th-place finishes here in the past. There’s strong value in this number—Taylor should make the cut and fight for a top 10.
Mayo: Hank Lebioda (+2600) — The approaches and short game have been legit, it’s just whether the driving and putting can match in the same event. He’s shown flashes of putting it all together recently, and it’s frankly too deep of a number to pass on.
Gdula: Adam Schenk (+1000) — Schenk has a top-10 at this event in his history already with two other made cuts. Over the past 50 rounds, via FantasyNational.com, Schenk ranks 14th in strokes gained/off the tee and 26th in driving distance while also putting at a top-25 level on Bermuda.
Gehman: Will Zalatoris (+220) — A top-10 not only has our attention but Zalatoris’ attention, too. A top-10 means an exemption into the next tour event, which he has done in each of his past two starts. Since Zalatoris doesn’t have PGA Tour status, he is playing a numbers game, trying to earn enough points in just a handful of starts to earn temporary status. By notching top-10s, he won’t have to dip into his seven sponsors exemptions until absolutely necessary. All that to say, one of the better players in the field has all the reason in the world to fight onto the first page of the leader board—even if he struggles out of the gates, like we saw last weekend.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sam Burns (+380) — I’m going to back up my outright winner with a top-10 bet on Sam Burns. The recent form … the stats on Bermuda putting … it’d frankly be a bigger surprise if Burns doesn’t contend this week than if he did.
Powers, Golf Digest: Patton Kizzire (+1400) — Kizzire loves Bermuda and his approach and off-the-tee play has improved over the past few weeks. The course history is there as well—Kizzire has a pair of top 10s in four starts at the Sanderson.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Luke List (+500) — List comes into this event with great form, and the key stats back it up. He ranks ninth in strokes gained/tee-to-green in the past two months and 10th in Opportunities Gained, per FantasyNational.com. List finished second here in 2016 and ranks ninth in our course-suitability ranking.
Top 10 results from the Corales: Tour caddie: 1 for 1 (Mackenzie Hughes, +170); Everybody else: 0 for 1 (though Brandon Gdula came very close, with Xinjun Zhang finishing T-11 (at +750).
Top 10 results from this season: Tour caddie: 1 for 3 (down 0.30 units); Everybody else: 0 for 3 (down 3 units each).
One and Done pick
Gehman: Sebastian Munoz — History has shown us that it’s very difficult for a defending champion to win again the following year, but there’s a fairly strong case to be made for Munoz this week. If we look back to his lead-in form before his victory last season, he had made seven consecutive cuts and had three top-12 finishes in that span. That looks eerily similar to his lead-in for this season—he’s in the midst of a five cut-made streak and has three top-18 finishes in that span. I’d argue that he’s been more impressive this time around with all of his top-18 finishes coming in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Clearly this is a course that fits Munoz well, and it’s conceivable that he makes another run at the crown this year.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy.
Hennessey: Sam Burns — We’ve seen a number of times since the restart where a player will surge on Sunday, then win the next week. (Jon Rahm at the Memorial comes to mind.) Something similar could happen with Burns after that Sunday 66 at the Corales, which went under the radar because of his poor third round. Burns has the form and course history, plus the Bermuda putting stats to burn him this week.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long.
Powers: Sam Burns — This week or next you have to figure Burns contends again, he’s so close. After that, I don’t envision needing the former LSU Tiger down the line. Now’s the time to burn one on Burns.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Henrik Stenson.
By The Numbers:
Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:
11-1 — Scottie Scheffler’s odds to win, the shortest odds of his career. He was 25-1 to win this event last year, previously his best odds.
0.96 — The average number of strokes gained by Sepp Straka on par-72 courses since the start of 2018. That’s the third-best number in this field, behind only Sungjae Im and Henrik Stenson in the same timeframe.
0.87 — The average number of strokes gained/putting by Denny McCarthy on Bermudagrass in his career. That’s the most in this field—by a significant margin.
8 — The number of consecutive cuts made by Adam Schenk, the longest active streak in this field.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.