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Wichita Open will move to June in 2011

The Wichita Open, a late-summer staple in the community for more than 20 years, will be played in June next year.

Tournament director Roy Turner confirmed the schedule change Sunday during the final round of the annual Nationwide Tour golf tournament at Crestview Country Club. While the annual event drew good crowds this year despite temperatures in the 90s and 100s, Turner hopes the move to a month with typically milder weather will increase attendance.

"My board felt strongly that the next step in this tournament's future is to get better weather, which is the only complaint people have got this week," Turner said.

Next year's Wichita Open will either be played June 16-19 or June 23-26, Turner said. A Nationwide Tour official said the final dates could be announced in the next 30 days.

The tournament, which started as the Ben Hogan Reflection Ridge Open in 1990, has concluded 10 times in July and 11 in August during its 21-year history. Its latest conclusion date was Aug. 26 the first year it was played; the earliest was July 15 in 2001, the Wichita Open's first year at Crestview.

"They've inquired in the past about moving it back in the schedule," said Tim Iley, the Nationwide Tour's director of tournament business affairs. "We have to look at television windows for our tour and travel for our players. A lot of things go into it.

"The course superintendent (Chad Stearns) and club's general manager (Ken Nicholas) felt like conditions will be even better for us."

The change in tournament dates will not interfere with a recent schedule switch for the Wichita River Festival. That event will move from mid-May to June 3-11 next year.

The earlier of the two proposed dates would end on Father's Day and coincide with the U.S. Open, which will be played that week at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

"I have a preference because of the U.S. Open," Turner said. "But if the choices are playing on that week or in this weather, I'll take that."

Iley said the Golf Channel's recent 10-year agreement with the LPGA Tour altered television opportunities for tournaments and created the possibility for the Wichita Open to move into a June slot. It will likely be placed before or after the Fort Smith Classic in Arkansas, easing the travel burden for players.

"We try to look at each event each year and look at a lot of different factors," Iley said. "If it works well, let's do it again. If it doesn't, let's see where we can make it work.

"We're always looking to make our events bigger and better."

The schedule switch will keep Turner and his staff hopping. Instead of a 12-month turnaround, next year's Wichita Open is just 10 months away.

"It'll give me more headaches, but if anything, it will increase our attendance, which is ultimately what we're after," Turner said.

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