Furr to play in Sanderson Farms Championship at country club

Denise Furr volunteers at the Sanderson Farms Championship every year and is proud that she can help support an event she believes is important to the capital city. 

This year, though, she’s looking forward to the championship for a more personal reason. Her son, Wilson will be playing in the event, in his first tournament on the PGA Tour.

Wilson, a Northsider and Jackson Academy graduate, was a youth golf phenom who is now playing golf at the University of Alabama. Among his many accomplishments at the age of 16 he became the youngest winner in the 100-year history of the Mississippi State Amateur Golf Tournament at the Country Club of Jackson. The 19-year-old is also the son of Bill Furr.

The championship is October 22 to 28, at the Country Club of Jackson (CCJ).

The event is expected to draw 132 golfers from across the country, including past champions, PGA notables, and locals like Northside golf phenom Wilson Furr.

“He’s always dreamed of being in a PGA event. To be on his home course, with his people supporting him is a dream,” Denise said. “He missed the cut a couple of years ago at the PGA Junior Championship. The winner got into the Valero Texas Open.”

The Valero Texas event is a San Antonio-based competition on the PGA Tour. The winner of the junior championship gets an automatic bid to play in it.

Wilson made it to a playoff, but ultimately fell short, missing out on a PGA invite. “I was devastated when he didn’t get in, (but) this is so right,” Denise said.

This year marks the fifth year the championship has been played at CCJ.

Sanderson is a major draw for the capital city, bringing in 132 professional and future professional golfers, as well as tens of thousands of spectators. Last year, about 30,000 people attended – a number tournament Executive Director Steve Jent would like to eclipse this year.

“I always look at the football schedule. Mississippi State is hosting Texas A&M on that Saturday, but Ole Miss has the week off. All the fans that would normally travel to Oxford (could) choose to come to the Sanderson Farms Championship instead,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve had our dates fall on the same weekend as an Ole Miss (bye) week.”

If having a bye week weren’t enough, spectators will enjoy the country club’s beautiful surroundings and the usually sunny skies and mild temperatures.

They might also be drawn by the championship’s stacked field of competitors, as well as

several new offerings for fans. 

Players expected to attend include Bill Haas, the 2011 FedEx Cup champion, Retief Goosen, the 2001 and 2004 Masters Tournament winner, Angel Cabrera, who won the 2007 U.S. Open and the 2009 Masters, and Stuart Appleby, who won the 2010 PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year Award. 

Also returning are the past four Sanderson Farms winners, including Ryan Armour, Cody Gribble, Peter Malnati and Nick Taylor.

“We have a good field of veterans, as well as some younger players on the tour,” Jent said. 

Among those younger players are Sam Burns, a PGA success story.

Last year, Burns, who was not on the tour, received an exemption to play in the championship. This year, he’s here in his own right, having earned his PGA card.

Because the championship is on the PGA Tour, players must have a PGA card or receive special invitation to play.

The event is also one of the earliest of the 2018-19 tour season, meaning competitors can earn points toward FedEx Cup point standings.

“The FedEx season is a wrap-around season. The Tour Championship was (in September) and the new season starts in October. We’re right at the beginning of the season, so (players) can earn points right out of the gate,” he said.

As for new offerings, spectators will notice new features this year, including a public concession stand on the 18th fairway, as well as a military tent on the 10th green, which will provide free lunches to veterans that Thursday through Sunday.

 

Jent said the event wouldn’t be a success without its army of volunteers.  “We always want to focus on the volunteers. It’s never too late to sign up,” Jent said.

About 950 volunteers worked last year’s event, and at least the same number will be needed this year.

Volunteer opportunities include working admissions and assisting caddies, as well as serving behind the scenes with PGA tour media officials or with the Golf Channel as spotters or microphone operators.

Volunteers pay a nominal fee to participate, which is used to help offset tournament expenses. All volunteers receive a shirt, hat and guest pass good for every day of the tournament.

This year, Sanderson Farms is purchasing all volunteers a special tournament jacket, which they can wear if the weather turns cool, Jent said.

“We’d love for people to work multiple days or multiple shifts,” he said. “We can’t get it done without them. Dr. Pepper is the volunteer sponsor, so we’re able to feed them well, and provide a lot of Aquafina, Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper to drink.”

The tournament has about 160 corporate sponsors, as well as 240 individual sponsors. It carries a purse of $4.4 million, of which the winner will receive around $792,000, Jent said.

The winner also will receive a two-year exemption to play on the tour, meaning they’ll be eligible to participate in other PGA events.

Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Blair E Batson Children’s Hospital as well as other charities in the state. Last year, Century Club Charities, the charitable arm of the championship, raised $1.2 million for Friends of Children’s Hospital. Another $260,000 was given to 30 or 35 nonprofit groups across the state.

For more information, log onto http://www.sandersonfarmschampionship.com/

 

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