JACKSON, Miss. – Cameron Davis set out with a simple goal of trying to improve his ball-striking during the third round of the Sanderson Farms Championship. He did that and then some, making birdie on his first five holes of the day and adding an eagle on the second nine en route to shooting a tournament-low 9-under 63 at the Country Club of Jackson.
“It’s nice to get on the train,” he said. “It’s been a little while since I’ve had a kick like that to start my round out.”
The 25-year-old Australian made the biggest move on Moving Day, carding seven birdies and an eagle to vault to the top of the leaderboard at 14-under 202. Davis had been frustrated with his tee game in the opening round, but a hot putter saved him and he signed for 66. In the second round, his iron game let him down and his putter failed to bail him out as he settled for 72. On Saturday, it was all systems go as he led the field in both Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and third in Strokes Gained: Putting.
“I just felt like I had a little bit better idea of where the ball was going today,” he said.“It was one of those rounds where you kind of find that zone where you’re trusting your driver, you’re trusting your irons, your putter feels really good, you’re not worried about the score … today was an opportunity where halfway around, having a great round, and I was just like, ‘I’ve got to keep doing this.’ ”
After shooting 6-under 30 on the front nine, Davis drilled a fairway wood from 266 yards to 10 feet at the par-5 14th and sank the eagle putt to claim the lead. One hole later, he blasted out of the bunker to 2 feet at the short par-4 for his final birdie of the day.
Davis is in his third season as a PGA Tour member and made steady improvement last season, qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs in his sophomore campaign. Just as he seemed to be finding a rhythm, the season was suspended due to the global pandemic.
“I felt like I was really kind of finding my stride, and after a couple of months of not touching a club or hitting a ball I kind of lost a little bit of that and had to work back into it,” he said, “but now I’m starting to find a groove and it’s starting to come down to the finer details.”
Davis contended through 36 holes at the Northern Trust in August, shooting 64-65, but sputtered on the weekend. The next step for him is to put four good rounds together and win his first Tour title. (He won the 2017 Emirates Australian Open and the 2018 Nashville Golf Open on the Korn Ferry Tour.) That would cap off a year that has had its share of momentous moments. Davis closed on a home in Seattle in March with his longtime girlfriend Jonika, and they tied the knot on September 5.
“Things haven’t changed much. We’re still together,” he said with a smile. “It’s working really well, and yeah, it’s nice to kind of really have a nice home base now in Seattle. We’ve got a house and a dog together.”
On Sunday, Davis could continue what has become something of a Sanderson Farms Championship tradition – all six winners since the tournament shifted to the Country Club of Jackson have claimed their maiden Tour title.
“I don’t know why it’s come down to every single one being a first-timer,” Davis said, “but hopefully there’s another one.”