Defending champion Sebastián Muñoz eyes Sanderson Farms title defense after 64

JACKSON, Miss. – Reveille the Rooster, the name of the trophy handed out at the Sanderson Farms Championship, was displayed at Maridoe Golf Club in Dallas for six months before tournament champion Sebastián Muñoz moved it to his home gym about two months ago and more recently settled on a more permanent spot in the front entranceway of his house.

“As soon as you walk in,” he said of what is arguably the best-looking trophy on the PGA Tour, “you can see it.”

If Muñoz keeps playing as he did in Thursday’s opening round at the Country Club of Jackson, he might have a matching trophy to go with it. Muñoz blitzed the course for nine birdies en route to an 8-under 64 and a four-way tie for the lead. But he isn’t thinking about his trophy this week.

“I just kind of tricked myself into thinking I was not the defending champion,” he explained. “I just kind of thinking it was another tournament at a course that I really like, and it’s been working so far, so I’ll keep doing that.”

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Sanderson Farms Championship Sebastian Munoz

Sebastián Muñoz poses with Reveille the Rooster, the Sanderson Farms Championship trophy at The Country Club of Jackson on Sept. 22, 2019. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

What Muñoz did better than almost anyone was making birdies in bunches, including four birdies in his first five holes. He nearly holed his second shot from 106 yards on the opening holes to set the tone for the day. Teeing off in the afternoon, Muñoz couldn’t help but see that Jimmy Walker and Charley Hoffman had gone out early and set the pace with matching 64s.

“I knew it was gettable,” Munoz said.

Only a lone bogey at the ninth hole when his tee shot landed in a divot prevented him from matching the 63 he shot here a year ago in the third round on the way to his first PGA Tour title.

“It reminded me a lot of when I shot 9 under. I was definitely trying to get to that number again,” he said.

Muñoz got the dropped stroke back with a birdie at 11 and then strung together four consecutive birdies beginning at No. 13.

“Sometimes I just ride the momentum. One good shot kind of feeds me for two, three holes,” he said.

Kevin Chappell can relate. Starting on the back nine, he birdied four of his first six holes, including three in a row beginning at No. 13, too. He chipped in for par at No. 6 to keep his momentum and capped the day by making birdie at the final two holes to join the leaders at 64. Chappell, who is playing on a medical extension and added a baby girl to his family this summer, sank a 37-foot putt at No. 8 that allowed him to dip into the pocket of his caddie Benji Thompson.

“We have a fun game,” Chappell said. “If I make it from outside 20 feet, he’s got to pay me $20 and if I leave it short inside 20 feet I’ve got to pay him, and it was about four feet short, and I was saying, ‘Pay me, Benji. Pay me, Benji,’ and that thing went right in the middle.”

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