Hoge will probably struggle to keep up with Jones
Kirk could be set for an enterprising week
Starts 12.45pm Thursday
Live on Sky Sports Golf from 7.30pm
Matt Jones breathed a huge sigh of relief when salvaging his US Tour card with a fifth-place finish in the Web.com Tour Championship at the start of October, and the Australian should freewheel to a decent cheque in the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Jones looks a bargain at 10-11 to outscore Tom Hoge in a Sanderson Farms match with Betfred. He is a proven champion, who claimed victory in the 2014 Houston Open with some last-gasp short-game fireworks before repelling Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott to win the 2015 Australian Open.
Jones missed the Sanderson Farms cut by a shot when in terrible nick last year, but he has found some form 12 months later.
Hoge, the world number 462, won on the Canadian Tour in 2011, but has achieved precious little outside Canada, and is no spring chicken at 28. Sanderson Farms form figures of 35-70-MC do not indicate this will be the stage where Hoge transforms into a world-beater.
Chris Kirk won this tournament when it was known as the Viking Classic in 2011, his maiden US Tour title, and he tied for second at the current venue last year.
This could be the event where Kirk rediscovers the spark which made him a four-times US Tour champion, and the former world number 17 can be fancied to outscore Jonathan Byrd over 72 holes.
First-round threeball punters are pointed towards Smylie Kaufman (1.51pm UK and Ireland time) and Aaron Wise (6.58pm). Kaufman has hopped over the Alabama-Mississippi border looking to find the form which made him a US Tour champion almost exactly two years ago. He played some good golf in the second half of last season and should outscore Davis Love and Billy Hurley.
Wise is a bright prospect who has just earned a US Tour card. The power-packed youngster, who recently moved to Arizona, won a Web.com Tour event by five shots in June. Expect Wise to quickly make an impact on the US Tour, starting by seeing off Joel Dahmen and Ben Silverman in their Mississippi threeball.
M Jones to beat T Hoge
2pts 10-11 Betfred
C Kirk to beat J Byrd
2pts 5-6 BoyleSports
S Kaufman to win threeball
1pt 6-4 Hills
A Wise to win threeball
1pt 11-8 Hills
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