SPORTS

Kizzire searching for 1st PGA Tour win at Sanderson Farms

Patton Kizzire hopes to keep a promising start to the season going at a course where he's had recent success.

The 30-year-old Kizzire is coming off a second-place finish at the Safeway Open in California two weeks ago and returns this week to the Sanderson Farms Championship, where he finished fourth a year ago.

Kizzire — who grew up in nearby Tuscaloosa, Alabama — says one reason he feels so comfortable at the Country Club of Jackson is that it brings back some nostalgia.

"I grew up playing Bermuda greens and Bermuda rough in a country club-type setting like this, so it feels like it did when I was a kid," Kizzire said.

He hopes the good feelings can help him break through and claim his first PGA Tour win. He finished 82nd in the FedExCup standings last season as a rookie and had five top-10 finishes.

He followed that up with the second place finish in Napa, California, earlier this month. He had a one-shot lead going into the final round but shot a disappointing 70 on Sunday to finish second behind Brendan Steele.

Kizzire believes he's close to ending one of these tournaments on top. He had multiple top-five finishes on the Web.com Tour in 2015 before persevering and finally getting his first victory.

"I imagine it's kind of the same deal here," Kizzire said.

Kizzire and the rest of the Sanderson Farms field will encounter a much different challenge in Jackson this week than it did a year ago, when the course was soaked from constant heavy rain.

It's been very dry in central Mississippi over the past few months, and unseasonably warm and dry conditions are forecast throughout the tournament.

"It's ideal," Kizzire said. "It's just the way we like it to play — firm, fast and in great shape."

David Toms — a 13-time PGA Tour winner who is a fan favorite in Jackson because he's from nearby Louisiana — said the dry conditions won't necessarily lead to lower scores.

"We played lift, clean and place last year, so now around the greens and on some of the fairways, you're not able to put the ball in hand, which can obviously be a big advantage sometimes," Toms said.

Seven former Sanderson Farms winners are in the field, including Peter Malnati, Nick Taylor, Scott Stallings, Chris Kirk, Will MacKenzie, D.J. Trahan and Heath Slocum.

Malnati won last year's tournament on a Monday after constant rain forced the tournament to the extra day. He ended the season 57th in the FedExCup.