Why the 2022 Sanderson Farms Championship is vital to the future of the PGA event

The sale of Sanderson Farms to Cargill and Continental Grain Co. was completed in July, creating Wayne-Sanderson Farms. The sale of the poultry farm, as well as Jackson’s ongoing water crisis, raise questions ahead of Thursday’s first round of the Sanderson Farms Championship golf tournament.

What happens this week is important for the future of the event. Tournament Executive Director Steve Jent will welcome new executives from Wayne-Sanderson Farms to the Jackson Country Club to attend Mississippi’s only PGA Tour event for the first time. The initial contract with Sanderson Farms to sponsor the tournament runs until 2026.

“There’s still five years left in the original deal,” Jent said. “Their leaders are focused on merging two companies into the third largest poultry company in the country. What excites us is… (we) welcome all their new leaders who haven’t been here. They did not see the tournament.

“That’s really our immediate goal. We really want to get this year behind us, and it’s still too early to talk about an extension. You talk about it with maybe two or three years left. We know we are five years old. We are delighted to have them come to see him for this first year as a new title sponsor.

Pic Billingsley, executive vice president of retail for Wayne-Sanderson Farms, declined to comment on whether Sanderson Farms’ original contract was transferable to the new company.

“I can’t answer that question,” Billingsley said.

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The tournament impacts the University of Mississippi Medical Center Children’s Hospital, as well as a variety of other charities across the state. In conjunction with Century Club Charities, which promotes golf and philanthropic interests in Mississippi, proceeds from the 2021 Sanderson Farms Championship led to a $1.5 million donation to UMMC.

Jent is confident in the new management who will continue to support Century Club Charities, as well as the Children’s Hospital. Phillip Carpenter, president of Century Club Charities, is set to continue the company’s contract through 2026 with Wayne-Sanderson Farms.

The tournament is also a huge economic boost for the Jackson area, with an “impact of about $40 million,” according to Carpenter. Jackson’s ongoing water crisis, which improved on Sept. 15 after Jackson’s citywide boil water advisory was lifted, has never threatened the championship. of this year. Jackson Country Club has its own well system which provides irrigation and water to the grounds. Jent was also assured by city and state officials that the crisis would be resolved in time.

The short-term goal is to introduce the event to new management and continue to support charities statewide.

Defending champion Sam Burns is the headliner, fresh off a USA victory over the Europeans in the Presidents Cup. Burns and a field including past big winners give the tournament something to build on.

“There’s a whole new group of leaders that’s been born out of the merger and this will be the first time they’ll be able to see and participate in it,” Billingsley said. “It’s going to be exciting for some of us Sanderson Farms alumni who are in leadership positions in a new venture to be able to showcase Mississippi and show what this tournament ultimately does for the people of the state.

Clarion Ledger’s Wicker Perlis contributed to this report.