Fallse start

A strong Sanderson field exemplifies some important long-term changes in the PGA Tour’s fall schedule


In the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons, isn’t it nice not to deal with that coworker that says “see you next month” on Wednesday, September 30th? All right, enough dilly-dallying. We have a Chicken Classic to discuss.

Give it fall you got

The Sanderson Farms Championship typically has one of the weaker fields on the PGA Tour schedule. But this year’s Sanderson field is the strongest in the event’s history, breaking a record that was set just a year ago. In fact, 2019 was a banner year for fall tournaments. The Sanderson Farms Championship, the Safeway Open, and the Shriners Hospital for Children Open all saw record fields last year.

Putting aside the grody cash grabs (CJ Cup, WGC-HSBC Champions, CIMB Classic), there are four PGA Tour events that have been played in the fall every year since 2014. All four of them (Sanderson, Shriners, Safeway, and the RSM Classic) saw notable jumps in participation in 2019. While the Safeway got the short end of the stick this fall, as the rescheduled U.S. Open occurred the week before, the other three tournaments look to have strong fields in 2020.

So what’s going on? It comes down to everyone’s favorite metric for excellence: FedEx Cup points. Starting with the 2014-15 season, the PGA Tour announced that its Fall Series, which previously existed outside of the FedEx Cup universe, would be fully incorporated into the Tour season. That meant full FedEx Cup points were available in the fall, and many players have taken advantage. Since 2014, 42% of the players who won either the Sanderson, Shriners, Safeway, or RSM have gone on to make the Tour Championship, and 83% made it at least to the BMW Championship. That’s a serious boost in year-end bonuses, which get paid out based on final FedEx Cup rank.

There are pros and cons to this change. On the one hand, these tournaments are attracting bigger names, bigger galleries, more money, and more charitable contributions. On the other hand, the offseason basically no longer exists. Fans don’t get a chance to miss golf and get excited for a new season, and players—especially those fighting for their cards—can’t take too much time off for fear of falling behind.

So by all means, enjoy this year’s turbo-charged Sanderson Farms Championship. Just keep in mind that there are costs and benefits to every schedule change.

Quick Hooks

Charley Hoffman, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, and defending champion Sebastián Muñoz are tied for first at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Twenty-seven players are within four shots of the lead. Leaderboard

It is our pleasure, as a company founded by the biggest Lee Westwood fan this side of the Atlantic, to relay that Westy shot a bogey-free 62 at the Renaissance Club on Thursday and leads the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open through one round. Joost Luiten (63) and Robert Rock (65) are also in the top five. Leaderboard

We had a pair of 59 watches on Thursday at the Savannah Golf Championship, but it wasn’t meant to be. Andrew Dorn, a Monday qualifier, settled for a course-record 63 and a one-shot edge on the rest of the field. Forty-four players are within four shots of the lead. Leaderboard

Mi Hyang Lee and Lauren Stephenson are tied atop the LPGA Shoprite Classic leaderboard after a first-round 63s. Stephenson, 23 years old, has just one top-10 finish in her LPGA career and is eyeing a career-changing week in New Jersey. Leaderboard

1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie announced that this weekend’s Scottish Open will be his final competitive event. Lawrie hasn’t won since 2012 and says he’s enjoying life outside of golf. Full Story from the BBC

The Latest from The Fried Egg

Shotgun Start: The Shoe Incident, Sabbo’s Swanky RV, and a Dirt McGirt story

SGS closes out the week with some tales from the road as Andy drives around the country. There’s been another shoe incident and it’s a good one. There’s also some intel picked up on the PGA Tour’s RV subculture, its interior design trends, and the variety of rigs and who commandeers them. Then they get to the golf and discuss Lee Westwood’s stirring round at the Scottish Open and what it means for the Masters, as well as his schedule heading into Augusta. Then comes the Sanderson, which goes in a mishmash of directions like the career of Kevin Chappell, the alligator population in the country, Texas Open winners, and the golf course offerings at The Villages in Florida. They forgot to put up a Fan Vote poll again, so they just proclaim William McGirt the winner and tell a very amusing story about him being grumpy at TPC Sawgrass. In news, they touch on Paul Lawrie’s retirement and Phil’s “speed training” at Cypress Point. They close it out with the return of Masters Fact of the Day from Bamabearcat now that the calendar has flipped to October. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Pro Shop

Sanderson Farms is to chicken as sheep are to wool. Whether we’re playing a fall round of golf or raking leaves, wool hats are our go-to fall headwear. Get your Fried Egg or Shotgun Start wool hat today!