Sanderson Farms Championship

Sanderson Farms Championship

Sanderson Farms Championship
Jackson, Mississippi
Winner: Sebastian Munoz

Among the things notable at the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship mark the week, September 14-22 — was the presence of Akshay Bhatia. He was making his professional debut. At age 17.

“It doesn’t feel much different,” he said. (Note for historians: Bhatia, from Wake Forest, North Carolina, shot the par-72 Country Club of Jackson in a five-birdie, five-bogey 70-74, for a par 144, missing the cut by three. His grade? “Probably a C at least,” he said.)

In another bit of history, the Sanderson was the occasion of the first victory of Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz on the PGA Tour. For Munoz, what it took was a bit of convincing, and it came from the victory of Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, 20, in the Greenbrier a week earlier. “Jaco’s win gave me the little extra belief I’m good enough,” Munoz said. “I’m here.”

And it was a classical battle. Munoz trailed through the first two rain-interrupted rounds on 70-67 and shot a flawless 63 in the third for a one-stroke edge.

The final round turned into a five-man expanded shootout.

  • Kevin Streelman, teeing off 90 minutes before Munoz, gave him an alarming streak of red to look at — nine birdies, interrupted by a three-putt bogey at the 10th. (“I wish I was playing my buddies at home for money,” Streelman said.) He shot 64, finishing at 16 under, eventually two short of the playoff.
  • Sungjae Im went third from last and also was scary. He posted eight birdies, but bogeyed two par-threes — No. 7 (a three-putt) and No. 13 (missed green). He birdied three straight from the 14th on putts of 13, three and 13 feet, shot 66, and at 18 under was the clubhouse leader. He would be waiting nervously for Munoz to finish.
  • Byeong Hun An, next-to-last at 1 p.m., went on a run but bogeyed the 13th (missing the green) and the 14th (catching water). He shot 69 and missed the playoff by one.
  • Carlos Ortiz, paired with Munoz at 1:10, couldn’t get rolling. (They were former North Texas University teammates.

“Really good friends,” Munoz said. “We don’t talk to each other all day, but it’s great.”) Ortiz birdied Nos. 2 and 7 but bogeyed 6 and 8, and after his final birdie at the 12th, could only par in. He shot 71, two short of the playoff. “I was getting the breaks,” Ortiz said. “I just couldn’t get them in the hole.”

Munoz knew what he had to do. But he almost couldn’t do it. He birdied No. 3 from 10 feet, then the 11th from two. At the 15th, he went from rough to bunker and bogeyed. He came to the 18th desperately needing a birdie. He got it on a 15-foot putt for a 70, tying Im at 18-under 270. In the playoff at the 18th, Im was long of the green, Munoz short. Im pitched to six feet but missed his par putt. Munoz chipped to four feet and made it for that first win. Said Munoz: “I’m speechless.”


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