JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - All of the sudden, the Country Club of Jackson has moved front and center into the PGA spotlight. As final preparations take place ahead of the start of the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship on Thursday, there is a definite sense of enthusiasm in and around the golf course.
“I’m excited to come here,” said Brandt Snedeker, who will be participating this weekend. “With all the things (the PGA) has done here, this is a great place to start.”
Snedeker is currently ranked 41st in the World Golf Rankings and is one of three top-50 players in the 150-player field, along with Cameron Smith (45th) and Byeong Hun An (48). The addition of more marquee players was something that was expected in this first year in which the tournament is the main PGA event of the weekend.
In years past, the Sanderson Farms Championship had been designated as an alternate event, which meant that it was held on the same days as a higher profile tournament, such as The Ryder Cup or the British Open. But with the PGA shifting its schedule to begin in September, there is now more incentive to play in the Sanderson Farms Championship. The winner not only will receiver 500 FedEx Cup points, but will also get a two-year tour exemption and an invite to The Masters in 2020.
The total purse for the event this weekend is $6.6 million which is a fifty-percent increase from last year.
“It’s really important,” said Snedeker. “Guys kind of lock up a great year in the Fall and set themselves up for success the rest of the year so you really need to get off to a fast start so you can kind of not coast, but pick your schedule wisely, make sure you are rested.”
Last year’s winner Cameron Champ knows about getting off to a hot-start. His victory in Jackson in 2018 was his first-career PGA tour victory and helped him qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. As he gets set to begin his title defense, he is not intimidated by a stronger field this time around.
In fact, he is hoping that he sees the list of players in the Sanderson Farms Championship get even deeper in the coming years.
“It’s changed from last year to this year,” said Champ. “I think over the next few years you’ll probably get bigger and bigger players and a huge boost for the tournament.”