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updated: 9/14/2017 6:32 PM

Fans follow world's top golfers at Conway Farms during BMW Championship

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  • Fans line the first fairway Thursday during the opening round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.

    Fans line the first fairway Thursday during the opening round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Dustin Johnson hits from the long grass on the 4th hole during the first round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Course in Lake Forest.

    Dustin Johnson hits from the long grass on the 4th hole during the first round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Course in Lake Forest.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Fans shoot video of players on the putting green during the first round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Course in Lake Forest Thursday.

    Fans shoot video of players on the putting green during the first round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Course in Lake Forest Thursday.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

With the top 70 players on the PGA Tour competing at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, there's no shortage of big-name stars for fans to follow.

It was easy to spot the golfers who attracted the biggest crowds Thursday for the opening round of the BMW Championship. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, ranked 1, 2 and 3 on the tour, respectively, were shadowed by hundreds of fans throughout the day.

Among the throng was the father-and-son duo of Jon and Logan Gonzalez, who drove in from St. John, Indiana, to see the action.

"This is his first taste of professional game since he was 18 months old at the Ryder Cup," Jon said of Logan, now 6.

Logan may not remember that event but he won't soon forget seeing his favorite player, Jordan Spieth, sink four birdies over the seven holes they followed him on Thursday before the hot sun made them retreat to the shade. Jon Gonzalez said they might have stayed and tried to get autographs of Spieth and Logan's other favorite player, Rickie Fowler, if it hadn't been so hot.

Tom Muelling, a 61-year-old Marine from Crystal Lake, also was hoping for autographs from his favorite pros. He figures he's scored thousands of signatures in more than 40 years of collecting.

Muelling was at Conway Farms Wednesday to take pictures of golfers that he'll print and ask them to sign later. He carried one photo Thursday of the famous island green on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, that he's had signed by dozens of players who've won the event.

He pointed out the autograph of Si Woo Kim, the phenom who won the prestigious event in May at just 21 years old. Muelling found Kim and asked him to add his signature to the picture Wednesday.

"You've got to be patient," Muelling said, looking at his prized autographs. "You can get some of these guys three times a day. But some, like Tiger Woods, I've only gotten three times in my life."

While Jon and Logan Gonzalez followed their favorite group, Muelling let the action come to him from the comfort of the Patriots' Outpost, a special tent overlooking the 8th green. It was reserved for military veterans and their families.

Another father-and-son duo, Fran and Dirk Barenbrugge from Naperville, was also in the tent.

Fran Barenbrugge, who served in the Navy Air Corps from 1944 through 1946, said he appreciated that he and fellow veterans were getting such a nice treatment at Conway Farms. All veterans also received free tournament admission and refreshments.

Dirk Barenbrugge said he found out about the Patriots' Outpost when he was buying his own tickets for the BMW Championship.

"It was either that or I wouldn't have brought him along," Dirk Barenbrugge joked.

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