Sim tops midday leaderboard at PGA
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2007 Australian PGA Championship | Round One | 06 Dec 2007
A word of advice from his coach, David Milne, had West Australian, Michael Sim, heading in the right direction in round one of the Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship at the Hyatt Regency Coolum on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Milne took his first look at Sim for nearly four months on the eve of the tournament and suggested he make a grip adjustment in order to correct the number of shots he was pulling to the left. It worked and a brilliant opening round of 65 was the result. “My grip had been a little strong and David suggested I weaken if off a little,” said the 23 year old.
Sim, who has just completed his first season on the PGA Tour, struggled with a stress fracture of the back for much of 2006 and a decision to delay his start on the 2007 PGA Tour in order for his back to heal was both frustrating but necessary.
“I wanted to come back early and play the Jacob’s Creek and the Johnnie Walker earlier this year but my specialist said that he would prefer that I give it another six weeks, said Sim at his post round media conference. “It felt like a long time at the time but looking back now it seems like nothing.”
Sim was the leading amateur in the world when he turned professional at the end of 2005 and appeared to have the golfing world at his feet when he finished runner up to Paul Sheehan at the Jacob’s Creek Open in early 2006. A shot he hit in Wichita during a Nationwide Tour event several months later, however, alerted him to the fact that he had a problem and although he would win a few weeks later his back problem was developing further.
The long distances driving between Nationwide Tour events was not helping things either and at last year’s Australian Open he was eventually diagnosed with a stress fracture of the back.
He returned to the PGA Tour at New Orleans although he had played one Nationwide Tour event prior to ensure he was ready to go when he hit the PGA Tour. “It was frustrating sitting it out as my friends who had come through the Nationwide Tour with me such as Jarrod Lyle were already up and running.”
Sim finished 18th at the New Orleans event and had a couple of good weeks at the John Deere and the Ginn Sur Mer event late in the season but he had not done enough to retain his playing privileges and was forced to return to Stage Two of the PGA Tour School.
He missed advancing to the Final Stage but will have five events under the Medical Exemption category to earn the US$390,000 or so he needs to reach the same amount as the 125th player in season 2007. If he is not able to do so he will be once again back on the Nationwide Tour but it is a case of when, rather than if, this young man is successful on the larger stage.
Sim was in the first group to tee off this morning but just over an hour after he had completed his round he was joined in the first round lead by Craig Parry. Parry dropped a shot at the last when he was caught between putting or chipping from just off the green but had made a good start to follow his impressive week in New Zealand last week.
Parry has played in Japan for most of this year and although he has had only an ordinary year by his standards, he indicates he has played better than his results would suggest.
“I actually finished 6th in ‘greens in regulation’ up there, which indicates how well I was hitting my irons but I wasn’t able to score,” he said after today’s round of 66.
Parry’s form appeared to be on the improve last week when, despite a knee injury, he finished in a share of 4th at the New Zealand Open. The knee-cap injury is a wear and tear issue and despite the rolling terrain of last week’s Hills Golf Club in Queenstown he still managed to contend late on Sunday.
“I enjoyed getting into a position to contend once again.”
Hyatt Regency Coolum is a golf course on which the Sydneysider has had previous success and his return to form last week and now this impressive start is an ominous warning to his competitors.
Those finishing late in the morning group included two others who would reach six under including Richard Green and the long-hitting American J.B. Holmes while New Zealander David Smail and pre-tournament favourite on paper at least, Adam Scott, were at five under.
J.B. Holmes used the driver on only four occasions, his length negated somewhat by the strategic qualities of the Coolum layout. Holmes is down here for the first time.
“I have always wanted to come to Australia and heard this was a good event with a good field,” he said.
After a brilliant rookie year in 2006 where he won the FBR Open, Holmes, in his own words, has had a mediocre season in 2007, recording just three top ten finishes but his long hitting appeal will be a great attraction this weekend.