One of the PGA Tour's most distinct trophies is once again up for grabs this week at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
One player will lift Reveille the rooster come Sunday at the Country Club of Jackson, where 144 players have gathered to contest the Tour's lone stop in the state of Mississippi. It's a full-point event for the second year in a row, meaning that this week's winner will earn a spot in the 2021 Masters in addition to the various other perks that come with a Tour victory.
Sebastian Munoz is back to defend his title, but he's not making the cut when looking for players to isolate for DraftKings purposes. Instead I've got an eye on the man he beat last year in a playoff, along with several other contenders who should be able to rack up plenty of birdies on a layout that traditionally produces some low scores:
Sungjae Im ($10,500 on DraftKings): Im appeared in position for a breakthrough win at this event last year, only to be edged out when Munoz birdied the 72nd hole and beat him in a playoff. The Korean Ironman got his breakthrough victory a few months later at PGA National, and now he returns to Jackson as the highest-ranked player in the field. While Im was slow out of the gates in returning from the pandemic break, he has picked up some momentum in recent weeks and finished 22nd at the U.S. Open in his most recent start. His iron play shined brightly at this event a year ago, and expect more of the same this time around as he looks to finish one spot higher on the final leaderboard.
Zach Johnson ($9,600): The two-time major champ appears to be turning a corner. Johnson fell on some hard times in recent years, dropping as low as 260th in the world rankings in February, but he has since cut that number nearly in half with some solid play. That includes top-10 finishes in two of his last three starts, highlighted by a T-8 showing at Winged Foot, and Johnson has missed just one cut in his last seven starts. He's coming off a T-14 finish at this event last year, where he broke par in every round, and with 12 Tour wins to his credit he understands how to capitalize on strong weeks. Don't be surprised if he makes a run at win No. 13 this week with few big names in his way.
Brian Harman ($9,400): The southpaw is heating up, and now he heads to a course where he has broken par in all eight prior rounds. Harman finished a respectable T-14 at this event last year, shooting 68-67 over the weekend, and he returns with ample momentum after making each of his last six cuts. The veteran finished T-12 or better in each of the two playoff events for which he qualified, then chased that with a solid T-38 showing at Winged Foot. Harman has won twice before on Tour and as a Georgia guy he has plenty of valuable experience putting on Bermuda greens.
Kristoffer Ventura ($7,200): Can a second Norwegian win this year on Tour? Ventura was a college teammate of countryman Viktor Hovland at Oklahoma State, and he watched Hovland break through at the Puerto Rico Open earlier this year. Now it's Ventura who is trending in a promising direction, with nine made cuts in 10 starts since the break. That stretch includes five top-20s across both the Korn Ferry and PGA circuits, as Ventura finished T-7 two weeks ago at the season opener in Napa. While he struggled to get his rookie season on track, he's been a different player since the break and has been inching toward a big result for several weeks.
Davis Riley ($6,700): There's some serious value this week on Riley if you're willing to look past his recent run of three straight missed cuts. The local product had been playing some stellar golf on the Korn Ferry circuit prior to that, including a win in July, and he's one victory away from an instant promotion. One need look no further than the recent performances from Will Zalatoris to know that some of the best on the developmental circuit can transition well to a PGA Tour-caliber field. And while Zalatoris is once again topping $10,000 this week, Riley can be added for a fraction of that price at an event where he'll have some extra motivation and finished T-29 a year ago.
Scott Stallings ($6,600): Stallings earned the second of this three Tour victories at this event back in 2012, and he's been a regular participant ever since. The veteran has missed the cut just once in five subsequent trips, finishing no worse than T-43 on the other four occasions. That's a viable baseline expectation in this price range for a player who has shown some upside since the break, notably finishing T-5 in Reno and T-6 at the Travelers.