Some call it “Golf’s 8th Major”, shout out Will Bardwell, others call it the Chicken Classic. Regardless of your name for the Sanderson Farm’s Championship, this tournament has made it a long way since it’s days in Hattiesburg, MS. From sponsorship trouble, to changing courses, to historically bad weather, it seems as all of the stars have aligned for this event to take the next step on the Fall Schedule.
Historically held in the later part of October, cold weather and rain have plagued the event in recent years, with temperatures in the 40’s last year. The move to September was welcomed with open arms. So far, the move has worked out perfectly. The temperatures were in the high 80’s with little humidity, and the only rain was Thursday afternoon. I’m sure the superintendent welcomed it considering there hasn’t been a day of significant rainfall in the last month.
This is my first year at this event, but my hometown event, the FedEx St. Jude Invitational has experienced an elevation of status in the last year. Whenever the money gets larger, and field gets stronger, it usually correlates to larger crowds. Talking with some members, they said that the difference in the crowds on Thursday and Friday was night and day compared to years past. Featured groups like Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink, and Brandt Snedeker and young guns Scottie Scheffler and JT Poston make for a great mix of talent. Throw in numerous guys that won on tour last year and you have a field that improved by over 60 points on the strength of field rankings.
The course is in phenomenal shape as well. The bunker renovation, sanding of numerous fairways, and added tee’s have made this a serious test for most players. A -3 cut line and only 5 players double digit’s under par headed to the weekend is very respectable. Chatting with Cam Smith and his caddie Sam Pinfold after the round, they said that the greens are rolling phenomenal but that they are tricky for approach shots. Cam, said, “greens that roll that fast, typically don’t hold like these do, and the grass layer is so dense, you don’t hardly make a pitch mark”. Smith shot a 2nd round six under, 66 but came up one shot short of the weekend. The 26 year old Aussie, has already been named to the President’s cup team and was one of the highest ranked players in the world in the field this week.
Milder temperatures and clear skies should make for a great weekend out here at the Country Club of Jackson. If you are in the area, come out and watch and enjoy the action. If not, cheer on the Bulldogs for me.