Young players savor opportunity at Sanderson Farms
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Sanderson Farms Championship has earned a reputation as a golden opportunity for the PGA Tour’s young players.
Tyler Duncan is among a large group of rookies who hope to contend this week at the Country Club of Jackson. The 28-year-old Duncan was in contention at the Safeway Open in Napa, California, earlier this month before shooting a 3-over 75 in the final round to finish fifth.
Now he gets a chance at Sanderson Farms, which has produced three straight first-time winners.
“There is hope there to go out, and if any of us plays well, we’re going to have a chance to win,” Duncan said.
The biggest reason Sanderson Farms represents such an opportunity for players like Duncan is because many of the world’s best are overseas at the World Golf Championships in Shanghai. With no Dustin Johnsons or Jordan Spieths on the course, it makes for a much more winnable weekend.
The tournament’s recent first-time winners include Nick Taylor (2014), Peter Malnati (2015) and Cody Gribble (2016). Even though the money isn’t quite as high at an event like Sanderson Farms, the winner still gets $774,000.
More importantly, he also gets a tour card for two more years, in addition to the rest of the current season.
Nobody knows that better than Gribble, who shot a bogey-free, 7-under 65 in the final round to win last year’s tournament by four strokes at 20-under. The 27-year-old Gribble sometimes struggled after his victory, missing the cut in 16 of the season’s final 22 tournaments, but the security from the Sanderson Farms win meant his spot on the tour was secure.
It could be an interesting week weather-wise at the Country Club of Jackson. The forecast calls for nearly perfect fall weather the first few days before a front is expected over the weekend. There’s a chance of rain, and the temperature could plunge into the 30s at night.
“It’s going to be windy and colder this year, so I don’t think 20-under is going to be a number this week if the wind stays the same,” Gribble said. “It’s going to be a big challenge I think with putting, staying in the fairway.”
Six former Sanderson Farms champions are in the field, including Gribble, Malnati, Scott Stallings, Chris Kirk, D.J. Trahan and Luke Donald. There also are three major championship winners — Angel Cabrera, Retief Goosen and Davis Love III, who will be playing the same PGA Tour event as son Dru for the fifth time this year.
Follow AP Sports Writer David Brandt: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP .