Sanderson Farms Championship preview

Peter Malnati defends and Ian Poulter, Angel Cabrera and David Toms will start

Peter Malnati defends Sanderson Farms Championship
Peter Malnati defends Sanderson Farms Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With many of the PGA Tour’s best competing in the HSBC Champions this week, this alternate event provides a chance for the circuit’s lesser lights to shine.

The Sanderson Farms Championship takes place this week at the Country Club of Jackson in Mississippi. Peter Malnati is the defending champion and Ian Poulter and Angel Cabrera are among those on the start sheet.

The tournament began life in 1968 as the Magnolia State Classic and has always been held as an alternate event. Between 1969 and 1993, it took place in the week of the Masters. Craig Stadler, Luke Donald and Bill Haas are among the former champions.

Last year Peter Malnati secured a maiden win here. It didn’t herald great things for him through the rest of the wrap-around season. Although he managed a tie for sixth in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, he went on to miss 20 cuts through 2016.

As an alternate event, this tournament doesn’t carry quite the same incentives as a regular PGA Tour event. It has a smaller purse and the winner doesn’t receive an invite to play in next year’s Masters. Still, for those in the field, victory could be a career-changer as first prize is over $700,000.

Ian Poulter is on the start sheet as he continues his return from injury. David Toms, David Duval, Angel Cabrera, Geoff Ogilvy and Retief Goosen are other familiar names in the draw.

Ian Poulter swing analysis:

The weather forecast for Jackson looks set pretty fair after Thursday, although there could be some rain to contend with on day one.

Venue: CC of Jackson, Jackson, Mississippi Date: Oct 27-30 Course stats: par 72, 7,421 yards Purse: $4,200,000 Winner: $738,000 Defending Champion: Peter Malnati (-18)

TV Coverage: Thursday 27 – Sky Sports 4 from 7.30pm Friday 28 – Sky Sports 4 from 7.30pm Saturday 29 – Sky Sports 4 from 7.30pm Sunday 30 – Sky Sports 4 from 6.30pm

Player watch:

Patton Kizzire – He was runner-up in the recent Safeway Open so is clearly on good form. He was tied for fourth in this event last year.

Chris Kirk – A former winner of this event, back in 2011, Kirk is the top-ranked player in the field this week. He was eighth in the Safeway Open

Cody Gribble – Another man who enjoyed a good showing in the Safeway Open (tied eighth with Kirk,) he could be an outsider worth watching this week.

Key hole: 16th – A very demanding par-4 of 469 yards. Swamp waits all down the left side of the hole and it cuts in across the fairway some 80 yards short of the green. The safe tee shot is played to the right side of the fairway but this will leave a long shot in. The approach is just as testing as the drive – water waits left and a large bunker guards the putting surface to the right. A par here is a very good score.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?