Yet this years International will have one of its best-ever fields ' even without the top 3 players in the world.
The system awards 8 points for double eagle, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie, zero for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse.
This isnt the ideal tournament to fine tune ones game for next weeks PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., which means these men are in attendance at Castle Rock, Colo., because they share affection for both the tournament and its founder, Jack Vickers.
Mickelson is back to pay homage to Vickers and celebrate the events 20th birthday ' and to try and pick up a third career victory.
He skipped the event last year for the first time in his professional career in order to get in some extra practice time at Whistling Straits, site of last years PGA Championship.
The left-hander won this tournament in 1993 and 1997.
Goosen is also back after a brief absence. Goosen was committed to play the tournament a year ago but was forced to withdraw after bruising his hip during a jet-ski accident the week before while on vacation.
Similarly, Ernie Els was scheduled to compete this year but was forced to pull out after undergoing surgery on his left knee after injuring it while on a sailing vacation two weeks ago.
Unfortunately for Els, who won this event in 2000 with a record-tying 48 points, he will not be able to return to action as soon as Goosen did a year ago. Els is out indefinitely following the surgery, which means he will also be forced to skip the PGA Championship and the Presidents Cup.
A healthy Els would have been the favorite for the week. But in his absence ' as well as Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, that honor goes to his countryman.
Five for the Title:
Goosen is over due for a win this season, having yet to record a first-place finish on either the PGA or European tour. He has put himself in position to do so, but has yet to close the deal. Goosen blew a three-stroke lead in the final round of the U.S. Open by shooting 81. He then shot 74 in the final round of the Open Championship, after starting the day just three off the lead. But he looked great in his most recent showing, when he carried partner Mickelson to victory over Tiger Woods and John Daly in the Battle at The Bridges. Goosen, who tied for second in his last appearance at this event in 2003, is looking to join Woods as the only two men with at least one PGA Tour win in each of the last five seasons.
Mickelson is one of only two players (Davis Love III) to have twice won this tournament. He initially set the 72-hole scoring record with 48 points in 1997, which was matched by Els three years later. He also has three wins on tour this season. Thats the good news. The bad news is: Mickelson has performed increasingly (or decreasingly) worse since his BellSouth victory prior to the Masters. His last five finishes have been worse than the one before. He was also terribly erratic in the made-for-TV Battle, which was contested on his home course at The Bridges. All things considered, hes still a birdie machine, and aggressive play is rewarded in this format. Mickelson ranks second on tour behind Woods in birdie average, with 4.61 birdies per round.
Toms doesnt have the length of a Mickelson, but he still manages to make nearly as many birdies, ranking third on tour in birdies per round. He will be making his first start since disqualifying himself after the first round of the Open Championship. Surprisingly, in his 10 previous starts in this event he has only one top-10; however, that was a victory in 1999.
DiMarco looked ready to runaway with this tournament a year ago, when he scored 31 points after the first two days and built a 9-point lead. But he lost 7 points over his final two rounds and settled for a tie for sixth. DiMarco is a streaky player. He started the season strongly, with four top-5s in his first nine starts; however, he has since cooled with no top-10s in his last seven events. He tied for 12th at last week's Buick Open, which means he's getting better, and he could be set for another run. This could be the place; he has three top-6 finishes in his last four starts at Castle Pines.
Davis Love III
Love missed the cut in his last start at the Open Championship, but prior to that he had three top-10s in four-tournament stretch. Love is trying to avoid his second consecutive winless season. He won this tournament in 1990 and again in 2003.
Playing Out the Font Nine
Four more to keep an eye on
*Sergio Garcia, who is returning after a one-year absence. Garcia was among the notables to skip this tournament a year ago. In five previous starts, his best finish is a tie for 11th in 2001.
*Greg Norman, who has played well recently on the elder circuit. He missed out by a stroke on a playoff in his Champions Tour debut at the Senior British Open. He then finished fourth at last weeks U.S. Senior Open. Norman won this tournament in 1989.
*Rod Pampling, who is the defending champion. Pampling, who has four top-10 finishes this season, will be trying to become the first repeat winner in the tournaments history.
*David Duval, who will be playing near his residential home in Denver. Duval finished runner-up to Toms in 1999. He will be trying to make his first cut in 13 starts this season.