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First-Timer Sim Ready to Wave Australian Flag [Golf Ping: The Masters]
The Masters dot com ^ | March 8, 2010 | Bob Gillespie

Posted on 03/09/2010 7:18:55 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi

First-Timer Sim Ready to Wave Australian Flag

Monday, March 8, 2010

By Bob Gillespie


Growing up, Michael Sim was a typical Australian child of the 1980s and ’90s, especially when it came to golf. He idolized Greg Norman – as a junior, he wore a broad-brimmed white hat similar to his hero’s – and the first week of each April, he would rise at 3 a.m. local time to see the Masters on television.

He was not, of course, the only one. Practically his entire adopted homeland – Sim was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, but his family moved to Australia when Michael was 5 – then as now routinely set its alarm clocks to view the final round from Augusta.

“Every Australian watches,” says the reigning Nationwide Tour Player of the Year and one of 17 first-time Masters invitees.

“Everyone talked about the Masters, about what Greg did,” he continues. “For that tournament, I used to get up early even on school days. You’d see the final round on Monday morning in Australia; I’d even miss the first couple of classes to see it.”

Perhaps luckily, his memories from 1996 Masters, Norman’s infamous final-round letdown versus three-time champion Nick Faldo, are not vivid. “(Norman) had what, a six-shot lead?” he says. Of course, Sim, 25, was only 11 at the time.

But he can describe in intimate detail the Augusta National Golf Club’s fabled course as if he had played it dozens of times, instead of only in his Great White Shark-tinged dreams.

“I’ve never actually been to Augusta, but I feel like I have been,” he says. “I’ve seen so many shots, especially on the back nine. Watching on TV, I feel like I’ve played the course in a way.

“When I get there, it’s not like I’ll stand on the 10th tee and say, ‘Where does this go?’ You know where to hit it, where to miss, where to come into the green (from) – just from watching on TV.”

He’ll get there one month from now, joining fellow Australians Nathan Green, Marc Leishman and players from Japan, England, Korea and Italy, plus seven Americans, as Masters’ rookies. Few of the rest have traveled as twisting a route to Magnolia Lane.

“Yeah,” Sim says, laughing. “If you’d asked me a year ago, (with him having) conditional status on the Nationwide Tour, ‘Do you think you’ll be in the Masters?’ There probably wasn’t much chance.”

Such hardly seemed likely when Sim was the world’s top-ranked amateur in 2005, a young star with seemingly unlimited potential. He turned professional later that year at age 21, and after a season on the Nationwide Tour, where he won once and finished 19th on the 2006 money list, he was off to the PGA Tour.

Except he wasn’t, not right away. Unknowingly, Sim suffered a stress fracture to his spine during a Nationwide event in Wichita. “I hit my tee shot and felt something down in my back,” he says. “I had an MRI in Pittsburgh and it was all clear, so I went home, rehabbed for a month and came back. Then, two events later, it went out again.”

By the time he was diagnosed and treated, the 2007 PGA Tour season was done and Sim ranked 169th. He failed to win enough money for full exemption during a five-event medical extension in 2008, and returned to the Nationwide Tour last spring.

He did so with a vengeance. In 12 starts, he won three times to earn a “battlefield promotion” and a tour-record $644,142. He also demonstrated PGA Tour-level savvy, tying for 18th at the U.S. Open while playing with Tiger Woods in the final round. A sixth-place finish at the Australian Open and a tie for fifth at the Australian PGA vaulted Sim to 44th in the Official World Golf Rankings – and earned him his Masters debut.

“It’s a big, big deal,” he says. “Growing up, I always wanted to play it, and now I’m lucky enough to be there. It probably won’t sink in until I get there, when I step on the grounds.

“I want to get down there after Doral (CA Championship) or Tampa (Transitions Championship) to have a look at the place. If I go early, I can know my way around, and it can become more of a normal event.”

But Sim readily admits the Masters is not that. “It’s the best tournament in the world,” he says unashamedly. He knows the rest of his countrymen feel that way, too.

“Obviously, Aussies have won every other major but that one,” he says. “I don’t know exactly why it’s so special, but that’s a good reason. (Geoff) Ogilvy won the (U.S.) Open, Greg won the British twice and Elk (Steve Elkington) won the PGA.

“No Aussie’s won (the Masters), and it gets talked about a lot in Australia that we’ve never won.”

No question, an Australian will win a Green Jacket eventually, Sim says. Equally not in doubt, he would love to be the one to end the drought.

“To me, the first to do anything, it’s a great achievement,” he says. “Whoever the first winner is will be a great champion, a hall of famer when he goes home to Australia.”

As a Masters rookie, Sim won’t discount the possibility of winning, even if this hasn’t happened since Fuzzy Zoeller’s win in 1979. “I’m in the field, so I have a chance.” As a second choice, he’d settle for, say, a top-16 finish and automatic return invitation. “That’s pretty realistic,” he says. “I was 18th at Bethpage last year, and three wins on the Nationwide Tour will help me do my best.”

For now, he’s content to visualize other “firsts” – his opening tee shot, his first venture through Amen Corner – and anticipate sharing those experiences with his coach of 13 years, David Milne, family members and other long-time supporters.

It is, he said, the achievement of a lifetime – even if that’s only 25 years, just five as a professional golfer.

“I don’t feel 25,” he said. “It’s moving along fast.”

Come the first week in April, Sim probably won’t feel 25, either. Chances are he’ll feel like a kid again



TOPICS: Sports
KEYWORDS: augusta; major; masters; sim
As a runup to the Masters next month, I'll try to highlight some new faces in the crowd before the first major of the year.
1 posted on 03/09/2010 7:18:56 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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To: onedoug; cincinnati65; PISANO; IonImplantGuru; Rummyfan; Aussie Dasher; 4woodenboats; ...
There are only 34 Rules Of Golf.

Email me if you want on the Golf Ping List:

Visit PGA.com, an excellent site.

2 posted on 03/09/2010 7:19:46 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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To: Zuben Elgenubi

3 posted on 03/09/2010 7:23:24 AM PST by Lazamataz (Seriously. The only way Obama can possibly pull this out is to declare Martial Law before November.)
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To: Zuben Elgenubi
Michael Sim's stats, supplied by PGATour.com


4 posted on 03/09/2010 7:23:27 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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To: Lazamataz

heh heh, that was quick!


5 posted on 03/09/2010 7:28:20 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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To: Zuben Elgenubi

I believe Fuzzy Zoeller won as a first-timer. Who else?


6 posted on 03/09/2010 7:39:12 AM PST by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: Moonman62
Good question. According to The Masters Website, under "Number of Attempts before first Victory" (halfway down the page), there have been three first-time winners: Horton Smith (1934), Gene Sarazen (1935) and Fuzzy Zoeller. Of course, Horton Smith was the inaugural winner.

 Number of Attempts

Before First Victory
1, Horton Smith, 1934
1, Gene Sarazen, 1935
1, Fuzzy Zoeller, 1979

7 posted on 03/09/2010 8:01:40 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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To: Zuben Elgenubi
"Watching on TV, I feel like I’ve played the course in a way."

No sir young Sim. TV does not do the course justice when it comes to the elevation changes and rolling hills. The lies at Augusta can be scary dead in the middle of the fairway. The bathtub like rolls on the greens are so fast it's hard to believe. That said I hope the fella does well, but he's got to get the idea out of his head that he knows the course. He must respect it. It will bite him for an 85 if he's not careful.

8 posted on 03/09/2010 8:06:42 AM PST by numberonepal (Don't Even Think About Treading On Me)
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To: Zuben Elgenubi
Of course, Horton Smith was the inaugural winner.

And Sarazen won the second Masters. I'd say it's one of the toughest accomplishments in golf to win as a rookie (the course requires an incredible amount of local knowledge, not to mention the pressure of a Major). Thanks for the info.

9 posted on 03/09/2010 8:07:56 AM PST by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: Zuben Elgenubi

This was interesting;

Lowest Career Scoring Average, 100 or More Rounds

71.98 - Jack Nicklaus
72.20 - Tom Watson
72.89 - Raymond Floyd
72.90 - Gene Littler


10 posted on 03/09/2010 8:27:45 AM PST by jessduntno (Read the mainstream media. Do the opposite. You can't go wrong.)
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To: Zuben Elgenubi

Four weeks to The Master’s and we’re staring a thread already? I’ll go way out on a limb here and pick Lefty to win - again!


11 posted on 03/09/2010 12:22:28 PM PST by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: Zuben Elgenubi

And as my dark horse - Roy McAvoy!


12 posted on 03/09/2010 12:23:05 PM PST by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: Rummyfan
Four weeks to The Master’s and we’re staring a thread already?

Well, this weeks fare is the Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular at the Trump Intrntl GC in Puerto Rico. Total purse: $3,500,000

So, here in Ohio we're getting 60-65 degree weather, the birds are starting to make their nests and spring is definately in the air.

Which means "Masters" to me.

Phil's a good choice and so is Rory.

Villegas is playing well but I'm tending towards Robert Allenby or Paul Casey. I'm sure I'll change my opinion in the next month so don't hold my feet to the fire just yet, if you please.

14 posted on 03/11/2010 7:12:58 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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To: Baynative
Arnold crossing the Hogan Bridge!

Try this GigaPan (scroll down the page a bit) from Augusta National.

Nice to read you again, Baynative. Haven't seen you in a while.

15 posted on 03/11/2010 7:16:59 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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Comment #16 Removed by Moderator

Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: Baynative

Of course Tiger will play at the Masters. The Masters is a private tournament, played at a private club and a lot of the tickets have been held by individuals or their families for decades. Augusta National won’t hestitate to eject unruly fans and ban them from ever coming back. This gives Tiger a “perfect” crowd for his return.


19 posted on 03/11/2010 9:00:52 AM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Zuben Elgenubi
It doesn't snow very often in Augusta but we got hit pretty good in mid-February for the first time in about 7 or 8 years. Here's a few pics of the Augusta National after we got dumped on. The first one shows the Hogan Bridge under about 4 inches of snow.


20 posted on 03/11/2010 9:09:46 AM PST by marshmallow ("A country which kills its own children has no future" -Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: marshmallow

You are most lucky to have access to Augusta National. What a beautiful place. Even in the snow! Thanks for posting the pics.


22 posted on 03/11/2010 10:58:37 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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To: Baynative
Yes, the story is starting to come out: Atlanta Journal & Constipation.
23 posted on 03/11/2010 11:01:02 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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To: Baynative

Did he really hire Ari to be his media guy? Well, I’ll give him some credit on that one.....
One thing though, and we’ll see if he does play BH if he lost some lbs. from when we saw him at the presser. There is little doubt he put on 10-20 lbs. all you have to do is look at his face. But knowing ETW, I guess he’s lost most of it by now....


24 posted on 03/11/2010 11:08:46 AM PST by cleveland gop (THERE'S NO NEED TO FEAR, MARCH MADNESS IS FINALLY HERE!!!!!)
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To: Baynative; Rummyfan

Four weeks till the Masters and we have a thread up already???

I think the pic speaks as to why!!


25 posted on 03/11/2010 11:15:48 AM PST by cleveland gop (THERE'S NO NEED TO FEAR, MARCH MADNESS IS FINALLY HERE!!!!!)
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To: marshmallow

Those are GREAT pictures!


26 posted on 03/11/2010 11:42:28 AM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Baynative

Perhaps, but he will never live down the blatant stupidity of his actions.

He will always be remembered as a great golfer, but not as a good man.


27 posted on 03/11/2010 12:01:00 PM PST by alarm rider (The left will always tell you who they fear the most. What are they telling you now?)
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To: Baynative
But I never discount Kenny Perry. He has a way of doing all the right stuff when he gets in the groove.

Except for the 71st and 72nd holes last year! I think Kenny has had his opportunity. I still like Lefty - he made a heckuva charge in the final round and came up two shots short. I wouldn't discount a younger no-Majors guy, like Chad Campbell or Sabbatini.

28 posted on 03/11/2010 12:05:57 PM PST by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: Baynative
Posted: April 2, 2010

PERTH, Australia – Michael Sim has withdrawn from the Masters because of a right shoulder injury that has kept him out of golf for the last month.

Sim was to have made his Masters debut. The 25-year-old Australian is one of the few players to have qualified for the Masters from world ranking points earned on the Nationwide Tour.

He had three Nationwide victories last year to earn promotion to the PGA Tour and got off to a strong start this season. He finished second to Ben Crane at Torrey Pines in January. He is expected sidelined another month.

Sim will not be replaced at the Masters, the only major that does not have alternates. His withdrawal Friday reduces the expected field to 97.

30 posted on 04/02/2010 4:54:24 PM PDT by Zuben Elgenubi
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