BROUSSARD, La. -- Fran Quinn and Michael Sims posted 7-under-par 64s Thursday to share the opening-day lead at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, the first domestic stop on the 2009 Nationwide Tour schedule.
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Darron Stiles and Matt Bettencourt, a pair of 2008 Tour grads who didn't make it into the elite field at this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard in Florida, carded 5-under 66s at Le Triomphe Country Club and are tied for third place along with Neal Lancaster, who finished his round just as play was halted for the day.
The field was delayed 90 minutes at the start of play due to threatening conditions and lingering thunderstorms that dumped more than two inches of rain on the Lafayette area overnight. As a result, 45 players did not complete the opening round and the first two rounds have already been tabbed for lift, clean and place conditions.
"It's not too bad when you can take that mud off the ball," said Quinn, who hit eight of 13 fairways. "It was definitely a good start for me. We didn't know what the weather was going to hold for the day. We were able to clean it and get a pretty good lie, so we were able to control our distances pretty well."
The 44-year-old Massachusetts resident chipped in twice for birdie during his round. When asked about the last time that might have happened, he said, "That I can't tell you. I know it wasn't last week because I had a shovel in my hands."
Sims had eight birdies on the day and his 12-footer at the final hole was the longest of the bunch. His best putt came two holes earlier when he needed an 18-footer for five at the par-5 seventh hole, where his lay-up attempt found the water.
"I was hitting everything really good. I hit a couple that weren't very good but for the most part I hit the ball really well," said Sims, who is a conditional member of the Tour this year but needed to Monday qualify to make this week's field. "It is what it is."
What it is, is confusing for Sims, a 30-year old who was born in Bermuda, graduated from the University of Rhode Island and now lives in Sea Island, Georgia.
Not Michael Sim, a 24-year-old promising Australian who was the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world at one time.
Sims has never played in a PGA TOUR event.
Sim won on the Nationwide Tour in 2006, graduated and played on the TOUR in 2007 and 2008 and has earned $669,764 in 26 career starts.
Sims has earned $45,371 in 34 career starts on the Nationnwide Tour and his T10 showing at the 2007 Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational is the lone top-10 effort thus far.
Sim finished third in Australia and tied for fourth in New Zealand and already has pocketed more than $74,000 in four starts this year to rank No. 6 on the season money list.
"People get me confused all the time," said Sims, does enjoy semi-star status back in Bermuda, which he calls a rock in the middle of nowhere. "I get text messages all the time saying 'good job' and phone calls from my friends and I have to tell them 'Dude, I'm not playing this week. I'm in Georgia.'"
Contributing to his identity crisis, Sims also had his name misspelled on his caddie bib. The Sims part was correct. It was Michael that came out Micheal. When given the option to have it fixed, he responded, "I'm not superstitious, but not right now. Let's leave it until the end of the week."
Maybe by then, everyone will know exactly who he is.
First-Round Notes: Overnight thunderstorms produced 2.3" of rain in the Lafayette area. Lingering storms delayed the start of the first round by 90 minutes. ... Defending champion Gavin Coles posted a 2-under 69 in the opener. ... Play was suspended at 6:50 p.m. due to darkness. A total of 45 players did not complete the opening round. Those players will be in position and resume their round at 7:45 a.m. Second-round play will begin at 8:05 a.m.