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2005 The INTERNATIONALCASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- Founder Jack Vickers says the International's move to the Fourth of July weekend next year will mean a smaller field and a bigger draw for the golf tournament at Castle Pines Golf Club.
 
But the big question is will the move from the annual August date entice Tiger Woods?
 
He hasn't played the majestic mountain course since 1999.
 
Vickers hopes that changes next year, when the International will be played in a slot long held by the Western Open, where Woods has played nine times in his 10 full seasons on the PGA TOUR.
 
Woods has only played the International twice, in 1998 and '99. Like a lot of the world's top players, he has taken to skipping the Colorado tour stop that has usually been played right before or right after the PGA Championship.
 
The new date is three weeks after the U.S. Open and two weeks before the British Open, which would give Woods enough elbow room to play the International.
 
But ...
 
The Buick Open will be played a week before the International. Buick is one of Woods' biggest sponsors and he might be hesitant to play in consecutive tournaments before leaving to prepare for the British Open.
 
'I don't have a clue as to what will happen there,' Vickers said. 'We've talked to his manager and all I can tell you is in the past, he's played that weekend. So, I don't know. All we can do is do our best.'
 
The PGA TOUR approached Vickers when it was revamping the schedule for 2007 and offered him a spot in the new fall series, which Vickers declined because he didn't want to go up against football -- and because he felt the July 2-8 slot would be more attractive to Woods.
 
Phil Mickelson said a move to the first week of July could get more top players to come to Colorado as it would be the last tuneup before the British Open.
 
'It very well may, I just don't know,' he said. 'Each guy is kind of personal on that.'
 
Vickers said he's after higher television ratings and doesn't believe attendance will sag during the holiday weekend because $3-a-gallon gasoline will keep people from heading on long out-of-town trips -- and Woods would be quite an opening act for any fireworks show.
 
If you get the feeling this is all about Tiger, you're right.
 
'When we started off this event we had all the players. It's a little different now today,' Vickers said. 'I think we still have all the players for the most part. But we're missing one guy -- the most important guy.'
 
Another benefit of moving up a month is that weather delays at Castle Pines will be less of a concern. And Vickers said with a more manageable field of 120, down from 144, it would be easier to clear the course in case of late afternoon thunderstorms and lightning that have interrupted play in each of the tournament's 20 years.
 
Although July is usually more temperate and dry than August at Castle Rock, this year was an exception. Seven inches of rain fell in six days on the course south of Denver.
 
'We'd have been in big trouble,' Vickers acknowledged. 'But it was unusual. Our weather's more reliable in July than it is in August. I think the odds are with us.'
 
Inclement weather is one reason Vickers has long been at odds with the PGA TOUR over the size of the field at the International.
 
While he desperately wants Woods to be here, he'd like to limit the party to 119 other golfers.
 
'It's too big, as you know, right now. It causes us nightmares. Plus, if the TOUR doesn't wake up and do something about it, somebody's going to get killed one of these days,' Vickers said. 'We're pretty lucky that we haven't had something up to now.
 
'We'd have a classier tournament if it were (fewer golfers) so we could handle it properly, so if we do have a storm or lightning, we've got a lot better opportunity of getting people to a safe spot and getting the players off of there and back out there sooner.'
 
DIVOTS:
Vickers said he's confident the International will have a title sponsor next year. ... As for this year, Vickers pronounced the par-72, 7,619-yard layout the best ever thanks to the unusually wet weather in July: 'I think we've got a better uniformity of rough. It's been cut down to four inches, but it's a lot thicker than we've had it in the past. And I'll say up front that my prediction this week is if one doesn't drive it straight, he's going to have some problems.'
 
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