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Zach Johnson Getting Early Start On Season At Shriners Hospitals For Children Open

Peter Casey – USA TODAY Sports

Part of the goal the PGA Tour had in mind when setting up the new wraparound schedule for the 2013-2014 season was to improve attendance and ratings by boosting the importance of the fall tournaments. The common thought is that, by awarding full FedEx Cup points for six more tournaments, some of the game’s top players would show up more often, for fear of starting well behind in January and February.

It seems that the plan is working on that last part, for sure. While several stars are still resting after a long playoff season, world No. 11 Zach Johnson has made the decision to return to action this week in Las Vegas.

Johnson had a solid year in 2012, winning the BMW Championship and racking up eight total top-ten finishes. He also finished seventh in the TOUR Championship and was part of the American team that defended the President’s Cup at Muirfield Village.

Although he started the 2013 season off quietly, his third-place finish at Colonial and his playoff loss to Jordan Spieth at the John Deere Classic really seemed to start a run of great golf for Johnson, and he is counting on carrying over that momentum into the new season. He also has mentioned that he thinks the new schedule will be a major boost to the Tour’s profile.

“You’ve got bigger, better tournaments for fans; you’ve got bigger, better tournaments for us players. And more than that, our title sponsors are happy with the FedEx Cup points,” Johnson said in an interview on the Tour’s official site.

“So I think the positives are plentiful and as a result you’re seeing guys show up in the fall that don’t typically play. You know, college football, pro football is a big deal, but so is golf this time of year.”

Johnson is hoping to make the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open an even bigger deal with a solid performance in his return to TPC Summerlin. He hasn’t played this event since 2008, when he finished tied for 10th at this same course.

Johnson’s presence at this event can only be good for the game. The Tour definitely needs more of the top players to play these early season events to add drawing power. If Johnson wins, that will immediately take away the notion that the former “Fall Series” events aren’t for the big boys.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer for RantSports.com. “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, and add him to your Google+ network.

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