2021 Sanderson Farms Betting Stock Report: Can Sungjae Pick Up Where He Left Off?
Sungjae Im is 14/1 to win the Masters after Round 3. Credit: Jamie Squires, Getty Images
It was an epic week at the 43rd Ryder Cup, at least for the American side as they rolled to a historic victory at Whistling Straits. Now, the PGA TOUR picks back up right where they left off with the Sanderson Farms Championship at the Country Club of Jackson.
Sergio Garcia is the lone Ryder Cup player traveling for the tournament this week, and you have to think it’s a bit out of obligation as the defending champion of the event. He is joined by Sam Burns and Sungjae Im as a couple of the biggest names set to tee it up for the second tournament of the new season.
While most of the field has been off for at least a week if not more, there are still a number of players carrying form going into the event, both good and bad.
I know I just got done talking about how Sergio Garcia may not even want to be there, but assuming he tees it up on Thursday, there aren’t many players in better form. He put together two really strong performances to close out last season in the FexExCup Playoffs and secure his spot on Europe’s Ryder Cup team, then proceeded to be one of the best players on their team alongside Jon Rahm throughout the week.
It’s always tough to play as defending champion, and there is no doubt that the gas tank has to be low after playing four sessions at Whistling Straits, but he is absolutely one of the hottest players coming into the week.
Sam Burns is the highest ranked player in the OWGR set to play this week in Mississippi, as he has climbed to 25th in the World. He too closed out last season strong with Top 21 finishes in each of the playoff events, and a T2 at the WGC St Jude just prior to that. Burns is also an LSU alum, who should be familiar with golf in this area and finished T3 at this tournament in 2018, positioning himself as one of the likely favorites for the week.
A three-week break probably feels like an eternity for Sungjae Im who seems to tee it up every week on TOUR. He hasn’t played since the TOUR Championship, but for me it doesn’t change the fact that he had the game rolling to close out his season.
Sungjae didn’t have a finish outside of the top 25 across his last four events and will open the new season at a place he finished runner-up in 2019. He seems to have found his game a bit to close out the year and it’s hard to think that the pressure of the Olympics wasn’t weighing on him earlier in the season. I look for Sungjae to be a bit more carefree with his game, and ready to contend in more events this season, which certainly can start this week at Jackson Country Club.
The case of Gary Woodland has been a really curious one over the last two years. He went from his career peak of a win at the US Open at Pebble Beach in 2019 to what has to feel like near rock bottom for his game over just 24 months.
Woodland had just two top 10 finishes all of last season, most recently in May. He did flash into the top 15 in July at the 3M, but otherwise his finishes are a smattering of missed cuts and top 50s. There is certainly some merit to questions about his health, and obviously his form as he has alluded to issues with his game. He hasn’t been able to be in person with his swing coach much due to the pandemic. Even in a weak field like this, I am hesitant and likely waiting to see results from Woodland before I buy.
One player that seemed to be on the upswing of his career during the fall last season was Lanto Griffin. Unfortunately, it seems his game has been headed in the other direction of late.
Griffin has a missed cut and two finishes outside of the top 60 across his last three tournaments, and simply seems out of form. He had an 11th place finish at this event in 2019, but missed the cut in his prior appearance. When he has his game, he certainly could compete at the top of this field, but it’s hard to make that case coming into the week.
The age old battle in this space is often recent form against course history. JT Poston will put that to the test this week as he is one of the best players in the field from a course history perspective, but flatly the worst on recent form.
Poston has lost nearly 20 strokes total across his last three events, all missed cuts. He has struggled to find anything in his game, but he is also a southeastern guy who may benefit from heading back east to the Sanderson Farms where he has made the cut five straight years including a third place finish last year. I won’t have him on my betting cards this week off of the poor form, but he could make for an interesting play in DFS if he comes at low ownership.