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PGA Tour: Sanderson Farms 72-Hole Match Bet preview

Original article published 29 September 2022

After a short break for the Presidents Cup, the PGA Tour’s Ben Everill shifts focus to the Country Club of Jackson, keen to continue the form from the season-opening Fortinet Championship where he predicted three from three in the 72-Hole Match Bet market.

Forgive us the early season gloating ahead of the Sanderson Farms Championship but had you placed £10 on each of our three suggestions from the Fortinet Championship a fortnight ago you’d be sitting on a tidy profit of £26 ahead of the second tournament of the season.

Had you placed £10 on an accumulator across the three options of Max Homa over Hideki Matsuyama, Taylor Pendrith over Cam Davis and Brendan Steele over Davis Riley you’d have returned £54.80.

But that’s in the past! Now we look to the future. How can we keep the good vibes going?

Thankfully the host course has been a constant for nearly a decade in this event, allowing us to find trends and stats to help our decisions. If we zero in on the last three iterations especially we see the winners had some definite similarities.

First off, they all player brilliantly from the tee. Sebastian Munoz (4th), Sergio Garcia (1st) and defending champion Sam Burns (1st) were all highly ranked in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee on the way to victory.

They all put the hurt on the ball also with 36, 38 and 42 total drives of over 300 yards so Driving Distance is clearly an advantage.  We will extrapolate further with Par 5 Scoring as all but one of the top seven finishers last season were double digits under par on the four par 5s over the four rounds.

While Munoz’s approach game in 2019 was just reasonable, Garcia saw 47% of his strokes gained for the week come on approach where he led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. Burns was second in this metric last season and his 63 Greens in Regulation was a career high.

Strokes Gained: Putting wasn’t a high metric for Garcia (28th) or Burns (57th) however it most certainly was for the seven prior winners, including Munoz at 5th for the week. Garcia and Burns were T1 in GIR so it skews the putting. Country Club of Jackson ranks in the top 10 annually for most three putts so let’s bite down on Three Putt Avoidance

Sam Burns 4/6 vs. Sahith Theegala 5/4

A year ago, Burns was the man who stormed home in the final round to victory as Theegala faded in the final round. As a rookie Theegala had held at least a share of the lead through the first three rounds but on Sunday plummeted to T8 with a 71 as he tried to deal with the enormity of his situation for the first time.

Burns was able to move the other way with a 67 to claim his second Tour title, and first of what would be three last season. He is now an established star on Tour and comes into the event hot off being part of the successful U.S. Team in the Presidents Cup.

For Theegala, its likely not a matter of if, but when, he wins on Tour. This certainly shapes up as a promising chance given his form in making it through to the Tour Championship recently and the fact he opened the season with a T6 at the Fortinet Championship.

Key Stat Ranks (PGA TOUR 2021-22 season)

Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee: Burns 86th; Theegala 91st.
Driving Distance: Burns 24th; Theegala 65th.
Par 5 Scoring: Burns 7th; Theegala 24th.
Strokes Gained: Approach: Burns 18th; Theegala 63rd.
Three Putt Avoidance: Burns 23rd; Theegala 34th.

There is a danger that Burns could suffer a little from a Presidents Cup hangover but with the numbers all sitting in his favour the prudent play is to stick with the defending champ despite the fact Theegala is a red-hot chance to win it all this week. We will slate Burns but go with your gut.

Gary Woodland 11/10 vs. Trey Mullinax 3/4

It’s a big hitters week so here are two bombers to choose from.

It’s not often you get a somewhat recent U.S. Open champion as a long shot against a one-time Tour winner but that’s the case here. The last of Woodland’s four Tour wins was the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in a year he finished 15th in the FedExCup.

Woodland has more recently finished 113th in 2021 and 79th last season in the standings but word is he has been putting in extra work with the man who took him to the heights of the sport in Butch Harmon in recent weeks.

There were glimpses of improvement at Fortinet (T64) but it will still take some time to see the full fruits of the labor. In his lone appearance at the Country Club of Jackson, Woodland missed the cut.

For Mullinax, the winner of the Barbasol Championship last season, the recent memory includes a T4 here a year ago. He sat 16-under through 54 holes but couldn’t go with Burns to the finish line.

Key Stat Ranks (PGA TOUR 2021-22 season)

Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee: Woodland 43rd; Mullinax 21st.
Driving Distance: Woodland 23rd; Mullinax 9th.
Par 5 Scoring: Woodland 69th; Mullinax 32nd.
Strokes Gained: Approach: Woodland 44th; Mullinax 112th.
Three Putt Avoidance: Woodland 168th; Mullinax 43rd.

Nostalgia and juicy odds aside we can’t in good conscience lead you to Woodland here although it’s certainly not outside the realms of possibility. The inside oil is Woodland is making big strides in practice… but when will it transfer to the course? Your guess is as good as ours right now. Mullinax to win it.

J.T. Poston 4/5 vs. Russell Henley 1/1

OK. After taking the easy road on two favorites above now let’s head into an even match up on the board in a couple of shorter hitters on the long hitters’ course.

Both players are proven winners on Tour and Poston is playing with a small chip on his shoulder after being in contention to fill the last slot in the U.S. Presidents Cup team. That ultimately went to Kevin Kisner after Will Zalatoris was injured but Poston knows another season of promise will keep him on the periphery and ready to go should the super team need help in Rome for the Ryder Cup.

When looking at them head-to-head here, we need to decide where we place the most value. Is it on the approach game, where Henley was clearly superior last season? Or is it off the tee where Poston has a slight edge in Strokes Gained and Par 5 scoring?

Actually, it might be wise to look at the putting stats here as the tie breaker. While both were far from great in three putt avoidance last season, Poston was 41st on Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting while Henley was 148th. The outlier though, is these are Bermuda greens, and Henley is much better on this surface.

Poston is also 5-for-6 making the cut in the event with a solo third in 2020, Henley’s best is a T14 in 2017.

Key Stat Ranks (PGA TOUR 2021-22 season)

Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee: Poston 59th; Henley 87th.
Driving Distance: Poston 107th; Henley 106th.
Par 5 Scoring: Poston 32nd; Henley 53rd.
Strokes Gained: Approach: Poston 114th; Henley 2nd.
Three Putt Avoidance: Poston 100th; Henley 143rd.

The postman will deliver in this one unless Henley has a big week on the greens. Let’s take the Poston profit and run.

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