PGA: TOUR Championship - First Round

Last week's win for Joaquin Niemann was a sweet start to a new season in which a 20-year-old star got the first win of his surprisingly lengthy career to this point. If Week 2 (and the 50 weeks after that) are anything like Week 1, we're in for a pretty great PGA Tour season.

Let's take a look at this week's contest.

Event information

What: Sanderson Farms Championship | When: Sept. 19-22
Where: Country Club of Jackson -- Jackson, Mississippi

Ranking the field (odds)

  1. Joaquin Niemann (14-1): I own all the stock.
  2. Brandt Snedeker (18-1): Top 10 in two of his last three. A veteran presence among young favorites.
  3. Scottie Scheffler (20-1): Led the field in strokes gained tee to green last week.
  4. Sungjae Im (16-1): Good player, I'd like to see him win something at some point.
  5. Corey Conners (28-1): Top 10 from tee to green last season. Finished second here last year.
  6. Ben An (22-1): Seventh (!) on the PGA Tour last year from tee to green.
  7. Lucas Glover (25-1): One of the underrated success stories of 2019. Top 20 here in 2018.
  8. Aaron Wise (33-1): Hasn't missed a cut since Canada. One of the top talents in the field.
  9. Brian Harman (28-1): Two top 10s in his last three starts.
  10. Cameron Champ (50-1): Because 50-1 is really high for a defending champ who hits it 350.

Field strength -- D: It's probably a B- by fall standards, and I like a lot of the guys in this field, but it's not the best. 

Three things to know

1. Cameron Champ returns: It's been a full year since Champ earned his first trophy. In that time, he's had just one more top 10 (2) than withdrawal (1) and double-digit missed cuts. He's a mega-talent off the tee, but he's struggled in other areas of his game. Maybe a return to Jackson where it was presumed a star was born 12 months ago is just what Champ needs to rekindle his game.

2. Niemann again? Sometimes I wonder who we were talking about when we were talking about Champ in the manner we were talking about him last season. Can Champ still be good? Sure, but the actual young superstar might be Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff or Niemann. I went over Niemann's bonafides right here and don't need to repeat them, but let's just say I won't be surprised if he goes back to back this week after his Greenbrier triumph last week.

3. Fall bump: Many golfers have mentioned this (because it warrants mentioning), but a win this early in fields that are fairly weak by PGA Tour standards can be a life-changer. Niemann didn't necessarily need it last week because his game is already among the best, but for somebody else this week, a victory can carry them to the Tour Championship and through the next two years (or more) of PGA Tour existence.

Past winners

  • 2018: Cameron Champ
  • 2017: Ryan Armour
  • 2016: Cody Gribble
  • 2015: Nick Taylor
  • 2014: Woody Austin

Sanderson Farms Championship picks

Winner: Brandt Snedeker (18-1) -- Last year (and traditionally), putting mattered here more than it does at most PGA Tour courses. Snedeker, last time I checked, is still pretty good at putting. He might not have the ball-striking talent of a Niemann or Scheffler, but he's still a strong talent who won't back down on Sunday if he's in it down the stretch. His name popped to me when I saw this field.

Top 10: Joaquin Niemann (14-1) -- I think I have a 20-week streak of picking the tournament favorite as my lock for top 10.

Sleeper: Cameron Champ (50-1) -- I made the case above, and maybe it's foolish because he still gets a lot of buzz, but I just can't quit long guys who hit it like he does. Shortstops with good arms, shooting guards who can handle the ball and lanky golfers who drop bombs. All weaknesses of mine.