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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Hotshot Hadley can reap Sanderson Farms harvest

Confident character to beat up feeble field

Chesson Hadley plays a tee shot
1 of 1

Starts 12.45pm Thursday
Live on Sky Sports Golf from 7.30pm

Palmer's top tip
Chesson Hadley 20-1

The Sanderson Farms Championship field is bursting at the seams with mediocrity – full of nervous rookies and washed-up veterans – making the 20-1 about Chesson Hadley of great interest.

Hadley is a 30-year-old who has arrived in Mississippi after dominating on the Tour from June onwards. He topped the regular season standings and the Finals money list, winning twice to take his victory total to four, then he returned to the US Tour in style with third place in the Safeway Open.

Hadley fired a second-round 61 in the Safeway and appears at the peak of his powers, having worked his way back to the grade where he belongs. He won the 2014 Puerto Rico Open for a US Tour breakthrough, earning $630,000 and a two-year exemption, then later Rookie of the Year honours. He dropped back to the Web after a poor 2016, but has immediately rectified the situation.

Hadley is a confident character with a sound swing and plenty of power, who should kick on to better things this term. He missed the Sanderson Farms cut by a shot at the end of his miserable 2016, but returns a different man, looking the most likely champion by some distance.

Next best
Austin Cook 40-1

A Tour graduate to keep an eye on this season is Austin Cook, who has just earned an overdue promotion to the top grade. Cook is an excellent driver, consistently finding fairways, and he has looked entirely at home on the US Tour in rare appearances over the last three years.

Cook finished 13th on his US Tour debut in the 2014 St Jude Classic, then in 2015 he tied for 11th in the Houston Open, sixth in the Barbasol Championship and seventh in the Canadian Open. He then had to earn his stripes on the Web and a rock-solid 2017 campaign, concluding with form figures of 9-11-8, did the job.

The Country Club of Jackson is a tree-lined track which should reward Cook's driving accuracy. He has hopped over the Mississippi River from his Arkansas home to the venue and he could return with the trophy.

Other selection
Aaron Baddeley 80-1

The name of Aaron Baddeley, former world number 16 and a winner of four US Tour titles, stands out in this humdrum field. It is a surprise to find the Aussie so far down the betting, even though this year has been a disappointing one.

Baddeley has shown signs of life, claiming fifth spot in the Texas Open in April and firing a final-round 64 to register his best ever Open finish at Birkdale in July, so is worth chancing at the price. Last year he used a low-grade US Tour event to resurrect his career, winning the Barbasol Championship, and he could repeat the trick in the Sanderson Farms.

Baddeley has played at this course once before, ending a terrible 2015 with his best finish of the year, a share of fourth place in the Sanderson Farms. That indicates the track is to his liking.

Others to note
Aaron Wise
Like Cook, Wise is a Tour graduate who looks good enough to succeed at the highest level. A victory may come quickly.

Beau Hossler
The cocksure 22-year-old Texan is another Tour graduate to keep in mind. Has bundles of talent and is working his way back to full fitness.

Matt Jones
The 2014 Houston Open champ got his US Tour card back with a brave fifth-place finish in the Tour Championship at the start of this month. The relieved Aussie should play well for a few weeks.

Chris Kirk
The four-time US Tour champ is a big fish in a small pond this week and he finished second in the event last year. Must be respected but poor recent form and long trip back from Korea are negatives.

Smylie Kaufman
The 25-year-old Alabama boy has underachieved since winning his maiden US Tour title in October, 2015. This is an event close to home where he could produce a sudden burst of birdies.

Harris English
The former world number 36 and two-time US Tour champ is still only 28, but has fallen deep into a slump.

Staking plan
C Hadley
2pts each-way 20-1 Betway, Ladbrokes
A Cook
1pt each-way 40-1 bet365, Sky Bet
A Baddeley
0.5pt each-way 80-1 Coral


Course Country Club of Jackson, Jackson, Mississippi

Prize money $4.3m ($756,000 to the winner)

Length 7,421 yards

Par 72

Field 132

Course records – 72 holes 268 Cody Gribble (2016) 18 holes 62 Roberto Castro (2015)

Course winners taking part Nick Taylor, Peter Malnati, Cody Gribble

When to bet By 12.45pm Thursday

Where to watch Live on Sky Sports from 7.30pm Thursday

Time difference Mississippi is six hours behind the UK and Ireland

Course overview Dick Wilson designed this course in 1962 and it was revamped by John Fought in 2008. It made its US Tour debut in 2014, staging this event ever since. The most prestigious gatherings it had previously held were the Mississippi State Amateur and the Southern Junior Amateur. Sanderson Farms took over as sponsor for this tournament in 2013, the event having been known as the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, the Viking Classic and the True South Classic, with Annandale Golf Club the mainstay venue. The modern host course, tree-lined and traditional, has one par-five which is comfortably reachable in two shots (the third), but the other three (fifth, 11th and 14th) are typically played as three-shotters. The 181-yard par-three fourth, the 482-yard par-four sixth, the 214-yard par-three seventh, the 479-yard par-four 16th and the 505-yard par-four 18th are the toughest assignments. Jackson greenkeepers tighten the fairways and grow the rough in an attempt to restrict scoring for this event, but scores of 16 under, 18 under and 20 under have won in the last three years. The large, slick greens are a strength of Jackson, with the latest Champions UltraDwarf Bermuda grass making for immaculate putting surfaces, with tight lies around them

Story of last year Cody Gribble was making just the second US Tour start of his rookie season, but he romped to a four-shot victory

Weather forecast Clear with light breezes for the most part, but a morning shower is expected on Saturday, starting a cool weekend

Type of player suited to challenge Most of the targets off the tee are tight at Jackson, there are plenty of water hazards, and three of the par-fives do not encourage those trying to set up eagle putts. Accurate operators with a strong short-game can thrive

Key attribute Accuracy

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He returned to the US Tour in style with third place in the Safeway Open
E.W. Terms
Sky bet