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Tom Jacobs is back for another First Round Leader preview, as we take a look at the best candidates for this market, at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Sanderson Farms Championship First Round Leader Picks & Predictions: Back Poston For a Fast Start

The PGA Tour returns after a week off for the Presidents Cup, as a full field assembles in Jackson, Mississippi for the Sanderson Farms Championship. The favorite this week is Sam Burns who arrives here as defending champion but even when just a few days removed from Presidents Cup celebrations, can he be overlooked?

Before we get into detail about the Sanderson Farms Championship, I want to first bring your attention to the OddsChecker exclusive, FanDuel promo code. You can sign up for this new offer below, and as soon as you bet $1 on any of these first-round leader selections, you will secure $125 guaranteed, even if it loses! Just sign up to FanDuel Sportsbook below now and place your first $1 wager on one of the selections below to lock in an instant $125 win!

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The Fortinet Championship was won by Max Homa, largely due to a Danny Willett collapse on the final hole, but that event also served as a welcome for new PGA Tour cardholders. There are still unknowns about a lot of this field, so these events are great to get a grasp of who we can expect to make the best step up from the Korn Ferry Tour.

Let's look at the past first-round leaders of this event, plus the weather forecast, to see if we can find any bias when it comes to making this week's selections, at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Sanderson Farms Championship First Round Leader Strategy

Here are all the First Round Leaders since the Sanderson Farms Championship moved to the Country Club of Jackson in 2014.

  • 2021 – Sahith Theegala (-8/64) - Teed off at 8:44 am (AM Tee Time)
  • 2020 – Charley Hoffman, Kevin Chappell, Jimmy Walker, and Sebastian Munoz (-8/64) - AM/PM Split (Two Each Wave)
  • 2019 – J.T. Poston and Tom Hoge (-8/64) - AM/PM Split
  • 2018 – Cameron Champ (-7/65) - Teed off at 8:54 am (AM Tee Time)
  • 2017 – Conrad Shindler, Andrew Landry, J.J. Spaun, Ryan Armour, and Wyndham Clark (-6/66) - AM/PM Split (3 AM/2 PM)
  • 2016 – Kevin Streelman (-9/63) - Teed off at 12:26 pm (PM Tee Time)
  • 2015 – Roberto Castro (-10/62) - Teed off at 11:36 am (AM Tee Time)
  • 2014 – Sebastian Cappelen (-7/65) - Teed off at 8:09 am (AM Tee Time)

In 7 of the 8 renewals, at least one of the first-round leaders has come from the morning wave. Only in 2016 when Kevin Streelman teed off just after midday, did the first-round leader exclusively come from the afternoon wave. In half of the renewals, the first-round leader has come exclusively from the morning wave.

There are some heavier gusts (22 max kts) at around 7 am, but these will have died down by 10 am, and then the winds and gusts remain fairly constant throughout the day. I would spread selections across both waves, with perhaps a nod to mid-morning tee times, to avoid those early gusts.

Who in This Field Started Fastest on Tour Last Season?

Here are the 10 fastest starters in this field based on last season's Round 1 Scoring Average

  • Russell Henley - (4th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 68.38) - Low Opening Round - 62 (Sony Open)
  • Wyndham Clark - (14th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.21) - Low Opening Round - 63 (Canadian Open)
  • Denny McCarthy - (16th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.25) - Low Opening Round - 65 (Wells Fargo)
  • Sam Burns - (17th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.26) - Low Opening Round - 64 (Valspar Championship)
  • Lee Hodges - (26th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.43) - Low Opening Round - 62 (Amex)
  • Rory Sabbatini - (27th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.47) - Low Opening Round - 65 (Honda and Shriners)
  • Joel Dahmen- (30th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.52) - Low Opening Round - 64 (Wells Fargo)
  • Davis Riley - (35th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.57) - Low Opening Round - 65 (Valspar)
  • John Huh - (37th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.63) - Low Opening Round - 61 (Wyndham)
  • Aaron Rai - (37th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.63) - Low Opening Round - 65 (Mexico Open and Wells Fargo)

What Score Is Required To Lead After Round 1?

Averaging out the leading round 1 scores here over the past eight years gives us an average round 1 leading score of 64.125. I think 63 will be required to secure an outright lead, although 64 has been good enough to lead or co-lead after round 1, in each of the past three renewals. Aim for 63, and if your golfer shoots 64 that might be enough.

The Favorites in This Week's First Round Leader Market

Here are the odds for the top-10 in Sanderson Farms Championship, First Round Leader Market. Here we will give you the best price and the implied chance on each of the top 10 in the market.

PlayerOdds Implied Chance
Sam Burns+28003.4%
JT Poston+40002.4%
Russell Henley+40002.4%
Sahith Theegala+40002.4%
Scott Stallings+45002.2%
Taylor Montgomery+45002.2%
Denny McCarthy+48002%
Davis Riley+50002%
Keegan Bradley+50002%
Chris Kirk+50002%

First Round Leader Selections

J.T. Poston +4000 ($50 Free Bet at DraftKings)

J.T. Poston already secured us a 66-1 win in the First Round Leader market at the John Deere Classic in July, and I am going to give him a chance again here,at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Poston made his first five cuts here, before missing the weekend for the first time in 2021, and he has posted finishes of 3rd and 11th in that time. When 11th in 2019, he opened with a 64 to lead on day one, and when 3rd the following year, he opened 66-67 to sit 2nd at the halfway stage.

17 times in his career, JT Poston has been within two of the first-round lead, with five of those culminating in first-round leads. He has posted two first-round leads already in 2022, and given his form, which is the best in the field, I like his chances of starting fast.

He has an early tee time, which may not be as favorable as usual given the potential for gusts, but I still think he can end the day on top of the pile.

J.T. Poston will tee off #10 tee at 7:33 am with Joel Dahmen and Sepp Straka

Byeong-Hun An +8000 (Risk-Free Bet with Unibet)

Byeong-Hun An fought his way back onto the PGA Tour with strong performances on the Korn Ferry throughout 2022.

He announced his return to the big stage with a 4th place finish at the Fortinet two weeks ago, where he was no worse than 4th all week long and ranked 2nd in SG Off-the-Tee, which is a huge positive going into this event.

An now returns to a course where he has a 3rd place finish, which was charged by two 66s to start the week, which left him in the lead at the 36-hole stage.

He is capable of a fast start, as evidenced by the 27 total times he's been within two of the first-round lead, and the five first-round leads he's already held. Two of these leads came on the PGA Tour in 2019, one of which was at the Wyndham Championship, a course that correlates with this one.

We know what Byeong-hun An is capable of at his best, and a fast start is not beyond him this week, with confidence high.

Byeong-Hun An will tee off #10 tee at 12:17 pm with Russell Knox and Sam Ryder

Matti Schmid +13000 (Bet with $50 Free Bet at DraftKings)

Matti Schmid is a fine young talent, who garnered attention as the low amateur at the 2021 Open Championship and he has not looked back since.

Schmid won the DP World Tour Rookie of the Year last season in just 11 starts, and this season he finished T8 at the Barbasol and 38th at the Barracuda to secure enough non-member points to get into the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. He then parlayed that into a top 10 finish at the Nationwide Children's event to secure a PGA Tour card.

Last time out at the Fortinet Championship he finished 59th, but he opened with a 67 to sit 6th at Thursday's end. He then proceeded to fall down the leaderboard, BUT, he did rank 3rd in SG Off-the-Tee at the end of the week, and that is a great sign for this event.

Schmid held the first-round lead at the German Challenge in 2021, and in two of his DP World Tour starts that year, he also sat two back at Thursday's end, showing an ability to start fast in his first full season.

At the Barbasol earlier this year, he hit opening rounds of 65-63-66 to lead after 54 holes, and those rounds, coupled with his Saturday 64 at the Boise Open not too long ago proved that he can go low at any given time. His skillset suits this event, and he is the type of emerging talent that can win in this type of field, off the back of a fast start.

Matti Schmid will tee off #10 tee at 8:50 am with Kevin Yu and S.H. Kim

Jimmy Walker +18000 (Bet with $50 Free Bet at DraftKings)

I have backed Jimmy Walker outright based on the confidence he displayed on Instagram after the Fortinet Championship, and the fact he led the field in SG Approach and was 4th in SG Tee-to-Green that week. He also tied for the most birdies made at the Fortinet Championship, making him a perfect candidate for this market.

Two years ago, Walker opened with a 64 to co-lead here after round one, and last year he shot a second-round 66 to vault himself into 15th position thru 36 holes. There is enough evidence that he can go low on the odd day here, and while it may be a stretch for him to compete over four days, shooting the lowest score on any day is within his reach.

At his best, he is a major winner, and as a six-time PGA Tour winner, he should be respected in a weak field this week, when producing the ball-striking numbers he did just a fortnight ago.

Walker has led or co-led a tournament 7 times after round one throughout his career, and 33 times in total, he has been within two of the first-round leader. That is a strong number, and one to keep in mind for this week.

Jimmy Walker will tee off #1 tee at 1:01 pm with Brian Stuard and Ryan Armour

Article Author


Tom Jacobs is the host of the Lost Fore Words golf podcast and has been writing betting articles on golf for the past decade. Tom also co-hosts the DP World Tour Picks & Bets show on the Mayo Media Network, so has his finger on the pulse on all the major Tours. A long-suffering Nottingham Forest fan, Tom also enjoys watching Soccer at the weekend, and was delighted to see his Forest team win promotion this season!


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