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Golf fans revel in BMW Championship opening day in Lake Forest

Lake Forest City Manager Bob Kiely from left Fourth Ward Alderman Michael Adelman pose for an official phowith pro Jeff

Lake Forest City Manager Bob Kiely, from left, and Fourth Ward Alderman Michael Adelman pose for an official photo with pro Jeff Gove, Sandy Stuart and Bob Irwin at the start of the CDW Pro-Am, part of the BMW Championship week of activities. | Linda Blas

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BMW Championship

When: Sept. 12-15

Where: Conway Farms Golf Club, 425 Conway Farms Drive, Lake Forest

Tickets: start at $40


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Two teenaged brothers stood uncertainly along the cordoned-off passing lane near the practice green at the BMW Championship in Lake Forest, tournament flags in hand and peering at the adults standing elbow-to-elbow.

They’d come a long way — from Salt Lake City — for the chance to see their favorite golfers in person, and perhaps snag an autograph or two, so they waited patiently inside Conway Farms Golf Club.

“I’ve got Michael Thompson, Jason Day, Chris Stroud — a lot of players,” William Stone, 13, said, breaking briefly from the vigil to show off his flag.

The two had only one day to get as many autographs as they could and see for themselves what the hoopla surrounding a major Western Golf Association tournament was all about.

“We had the choice to stay home or come here,” Harry Stone, 17, said. The brothers opted to join their dad on his trip Lake Forest, a decision they surely won’t forget.

The fun started before the practice rounds even began Monday. As luck would have it, the Stones stayed at the same North Shore hotel where the players lodged.

“Every so often, we’d come out of the hotel and see one checking in,” William said, wide-eyed.

The Stone brothers were among a handful of kids on hand for the tournament, which starts competition rounds today and ends Sunday.

Three-year-old Claire Bloom pushed her stroller with her mom’s help along the paved golf cart path that cut behind the reviewing stand and winners’ circle, leaving her pink golf clubs at home.

“We love golf,” Claire’s mom, Julie Bloom, said of why her family attended Monday. The Lake Forest residents and self-proclaimed “big fans of Phil Mickelson” didn’t want to miss a minute of the tournament in their hometown. “We’re going to come all week and look forward to seeing him play,” she said.

The BMW Championship is returning to the North Shore for the first time in roughly 40 years, with the new venue drawing both first-timers and seasoned tourney followers.

Fans Lynda and Tuck Woodson of Deerfield added the BMW to their travelogue for one reason only:

“It’s in Lake Forest. It’s very close by,” Lynda said. “We had to come out.”

For Nick Riva, Monday’s practice rounds were business-as-usual. Though he never misses the BMW Championship, Riva was all too happy to trek north from his Chicago home to Conway Farms to see “all the big guys” he could.

“I come every year. I like seeing everybody play,” Riva said.

Catching up with Jason Day on the 16th hole, Riva followed the Aussie as he played through to the 18th.

“It’s a beautiful course,” Riva said, overlooking the 18th fairway.

Conway Farms member and volunteer on the 18th green, Anthony Sobel of Deerfield jumped at the chance to get involved.

The biggest thrill for him?

“Seeing the pros play our course,” Sobel said. “Seeing how they handle our course differently than we do.”

Just as the Stone brothers stood tentatively near the practice green, Lake Forest City Manager Bob Kiely and Fourth Ward Alderman Mike Adelman paced tentatively on the 11th hole waiting to tee off Monday afternoon during the CDW Pro-Am Tournament with pro Jeff Gove.

Ross Adelman, 14, volunteered to serve as caddie for his dad — and, perhaps give him a few pointers along the way.

“This is very exciting,” Ross, a freshman at Lake Forest High School, said.

His dad admitted to being nervous.

“I just took the game up for the first time three years ago for him,” Mike Adelman said, gesturing to his son.

Adelman got a pretty good lie on his first drive on the 11th hole shotgun start. He ended in the rough, just off the green. The rough proved tricky, causing Adelman to overshoot, but he eventually sunk his putt.

A long-time golfer, Kiely, too, admitted to getting a little rattled by the crowd.

“I play at Deerpath (Golf Course) on Saturdays at 6 a.m.,” he said. “We’re literally off the course before anybody else is out there.”

By their second drive into the tournament, the two seemed to relax. Adelman even turned to the spectators and waved his hat overhead — just like a pro.

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