By Billy Watkins
Sebastian Munoz has the trophy from last year’s Sanderson Farms Championship strategically placed in the front portion of his home.
“As soon as you walk in, you can see it,” he said.
Don’t rule out his chances of winning another. Munoz, the 27-year-old golfer from Bogota, Colombia, shot an 8-under par 64 Thursday in the opening round at the Country Club of Jackson.
He is tied with three others: 2016 PGA champion Jimmy Walker, Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell.
Two of the biggest names in the field aren’t too far behind. Sergio Garcia, the 2017 Masters winner, shot a 4-under 68 and 2017 British Open champ Henrik Stenson fired a 2-under 70.
Sungjae Im, who lost to Munoz in a 2019 playoff here, finished 1-under.
The tournament runs through Sunday but without spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Munoz followed his victory in Jackson with four more Top 10 finishes during the 2019-20 season. He finished tied for 8th in FedEx Cup points with Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed.
Asked why he seems to play so well in Jackson, Munoz answered: “I don’t know, the energy of the place … I really like it. I kinda thrive in it.”
Munoz managed the pressure of being defending champion with a simple mind game.
“I just kinda tricked myself into thinking that I was not the defending champion, maybe — just thinking that I was at another tournament that I really like,” he said. “It’s been working so far, so I’ll just keep doing that.”
The tournament is being televised live each day by the Golf Channel.