No doubt, sweet-swinging Sam Burns is the clear-cut favorite in this week’s Sanderson Farms Championship at Country Club of Jackson. Burns is by far the best player in the field, No. 12 in the world rankings. He won more than $7 million last season and won three tournaments. What’s more, Burns won here a year ago.
The 26-year-old Shreveport native goes off at 11-to-1 odds to win Mississippi’s only PGA Tour tournament. Sepp Straka at No. 36 is the next highest ranked player at CCJ. J.T. Poston, at 16-to-1, is the No. 2 betting favorite.
But if you’re feeling frisky and want risk a little to hit a huge jackpot, boy, have I got a deal for you.
Jackson’s own Wilson Furr goes off Thursday morning at 500-to-1 odds. In other words, you can bet $10 to win $5,000. You can bet a Benjamin ($100) and win 50 grand.
I mentioned that to Furr Wednesday afternoon as he took a break from practicing on the CCJ putting green. He smiled. “I’ll tell you what, that’s the best 500-to-1 odds you’re ever gonna get,” Furr said.
You could tell he really meant it.
The Vegas odds are 100-to-1 against Furr finishing in the top 5. The odds are 25-to-1 against him finishing in the top 10.
Sucker bets, you say?
Hear me out. The first time I ever followed Furr around the pristine fairways of CCJ was in July of 2015. He was 16 and competing in the 100th Mississippi State Amateur Championship. He shot 14-under par for 72 holes and won by eight. He was like golf’s version of Secretariat at the Belmont Stakes, all alone at the end. If Furr didn’t break a leg, he was going to win. He was driving the ball 50 yards past his competitors. His wedges were dialed in, and he rarely needed more than wedge to reach a par-4 green. He won going away.
My guess back then was that Furr would be playing – and winning – on the PGA Tour in 2022, if not before. He had won the Future Masters at 14. Every college golf team around was recruiting him. He was a prodigy.
Belden’s Hayden Buckley, who tied for second in that 2015 State Am, won $1.3 million on the Tour last season. Furr’s Alabama teammate, Davis Riley of Hattiesburg, has already won $3 million on tour. Furr hasn’t earned his PGA Tour privileges yet.
“Golf can humble you,” Furr said, and he knows that all too well. Over the last few years, he has been humbled more than once. His golf career has taken some detours.
After finishing his college career, Furr failed in the second round of PGA Tour qualifying last year. He earned a spot on the Canadian (MacKenzie) Tour this summer but started slowly there. He did play well and had top 25 finishes in the last two events of the summer, shooting a combined 30-under par for those two 72-hole events.
Then Furr went to Mobile last weekend for the first round of Tour qualifying. He advanced with ease, shooting 19-under par for 72 holes at Magnolia Groves Crossing, a tough Robert Trent Jones course. That’s 49-under par for his last three 72-hole events, if we are keeping score. And, in golf, we always are.
Furr left Mobile Friday afternoon headed for a friend’s wedding in Tampa, Fla., when his cell phone rang and Sanderson Farms Championship director Steve Jent was on the other end of the line. Jent told Furr he was being awarded a sponsor’s exemption into the Sanderson Farms Championship field.
“Man, I couldn’t have been happier,” Furr said. “First I played really well and qualified for the next phase and then I get that call. I was pumped.”
He drove on to Tampa for the wedding, then flew back to Jackson on Sunday for three days of preparation for the tournament.
“I am just sp happy to be here, to get this chance,” Furr said.
Does he believe he can win?
“Yeah, I really do,” he said. “I am comfortable here. I am really playing well. I really believe I belong out here.”
He plays off the first tee Thursday morning at 10:01 a.m. with a chance to prove to everyone what he says he knows about himself.
If Furr were to finish in the top 10, he would earn a berth in next week’s Shriner’s Children’s Open at Las Vegas. He is two weeks away from the second round of Tour qualifying at Valdosta, Ga.
Of course, if Furr were to win here, he wouldn’t even have to go to Valdosta. The odds are 500-to-1 against it. Crazy as it sounds, Furr likes his chances.