Players like break before BMW

Sep 13 2011 - 4:55pm

CHICAGO -- Dustin Johnson loved having a week off between the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship, which begins Thursday at Cog Hill.

It allowed him to lose a lung cheering for his home-state South Carolina Gamecocks as they beat Georgia 45-42 on Saturday in Athens, Ga.

"The last three years," he said, "I had to miss it."

The PGA Tour wised up by reworking the schedule. Before, the top 70 players in FedEx Cup points finished the Deutsche Bank on Labor Day in Boston, then flew to Chicago.

By the time they arrived at the next-to-last FedEx Cup event, many were tired from having played several weeks in a row and cranky about having little more than a day to prepare for a tournament that helps determine the Tour Championship field.

"Guys are looking forward to coming here a lot more than in the past," Johnson said.

Last year's schedule suited Johnson. He won the BMW with a final-round 69 to edge Paul Casey by one shot.

Johnson trailed by three in the final round, but he played a bogey-free back nine and birdied No. 17 for his fourth tour victory.

"I have a lot of confidence playing here," he said.

And no complaints about the 2008 Rees Jones renovation because his first time playing the Dubsdread Course came in 2009, when he tied for 30th.

"I love the golf course and don't have anything to compare it to," he said.

No ace at Wrigley: Johnson, Ernie Banks and radio personality Eric Ferguson tried to make a hole-in-one Monday at Wrigley Field. A tee-box platform was set up in the right-field bleachers, and a bull's-eye green was created in left field for a 139-yard shot.

At stake was a $100,000 donation from BMW to the Evans Scholars Foundation.

Johnson used a pitching wedge, and his best of two efforts came to rest within 25 feet. Banks hit one to 30 feet and Ferguson to 50. Not bad considering there was no warm-up.

Not the first: Banks joined the Cubs in 1953, so he did not get to witness what Sam Snead did on Opening Day 1951. Teeing it up from home plate, Snead hit a 4-iron off the center-field scoreboard, then a 2-iron over the scoreboard.

"A 2-iron," Banks said in awe. "You could do that too, couldn't you?"

Banks, 80, has had both knees replaced but still loves playing at Cog Hill. He said his best score at Dubsdread, pre-renovation, is a 78.

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