Michael Sim wins Christmas in October ClassicMichael Sim became the first player since Nick Flanagan in 2007 to earn the special three-win promotion from the Nationwide Tour to the PGA TOUR after winning the Christmas in October Classic.August 23, 2009
PGA TOUR staff
Overland Park, Kan. -- Michael Sim did what seemed inevitable three months ago. The 24-year old Australian finally collected his third Nationwide Tour win in 2009 and punched his ticket to the PGA TOUR in 2010.
Sim finished off a mistake-free weekend with a 4-under 67 to win the inaugural Christmas In October Classic by two shots over Kentuck's Josh Teater. Sim ended the week at 20-under 264, posting a rhythmic 65-67-65-67 pattern that included only two bogeys, one each on Thursday and Friday.
Michael Clark II posted an 8-under 63 to wind up third, four shots back. Blake Adams was fourth, five behind.
The victory gives Sim an instant promotion to the PGA TOUR this year and will make him fully exempt on Tour next year. He also collected $112,500 to boost his earnings to $527,079 and break Troy Matteson's single-season record of $495,009 set in 2005.
Sim has eclipsed the record in just 12 starts and is averaging a whopping $43,923 for every week he tees it up.
"It's very relieving," said Sim, who collected his second win at the BMW Charity Pro-Am in mid-May. "I'd been in this position before and I wasn't able to get it done. I tried to stay in the moment as best I could. In Omaha I found it really difficult to stay focused on the last day. Fortunately I learned how to deal with those distractions. I did everything right today."
Sim, who shared the 54-hole lead at the Cox Classic in Omaha four weeks ago but tied for fifth, becomes the ninth player in Tour history to earn the promotion to the PGA TOUR and the first to do so since Nick Flanagan accomplished the feat two years ago. Interestingly, Flanagan rooms in Arizona at Sim's house.
Sim, the former No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, began the final day at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate with a three-stroke leader over Teater, Tom Gillis and Steve Wheatcroft. The native of Perth was paired with Teater, who quickly got Sim's attention with four birdies on his first five holes. Sim made only one birdie to that point and the two were tied at 17 under after a handful of holes.
"It was nice to start the day with a three-shot lead but when Josh started rolling in those putts I knew I had to stay aggressive and keep firing at flags," said Sim, who would hit 12 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens. "You can't ask for much more than that today. It was a good battle."
Sim and Teater went toe-to-toe for the next two hours. They each birdied the seventh, 11th and 12th holes and were knotted at 20-under when they reached the 363-yard, 15th hole. Teater's 3-wood went right, bounced off a cart path and wound up 40 yards from the fairway. Teater had to take a penalty for an unplayable lie. His third shot from the high heather came up short and when he missed a 15-footer for bogey, Sim suddenly led by two.
"We had a good battle coming down the stretch. That tee shot on 15 is a bit awkward for me and I finally went with a hybrid," said Sim, who . "It was disappointing to see him hit it out there. He came unstuck and you hate to see that. He was playing such great golf up 'til then."
Teater's six and a following bogey at the par-3, 17th left Sim with a three-stroke lead and one hole to go.
"I really wasn't thinking about the third win at that point. I just asked my caddie what the lead was," said Sim, who promptly pushed his tee shot into the wispy grass down the right side of the 448-yard closing hole. "I just gave up on my tee shot."
Sim then cut a high 8-iron from 185 yards to the front left section of the green, leaving him 50 feet from the pin. Teater would stuff his second shot to within 10 feet and roll in the birdie, but Sim shut the door with two putts.
"I kind of lipped that second one in there," he said with a laugh. "I knew I still had a couple of putts for the win."
The victory puts Sim in a bit of a holding pattern. The PGA TOUR schedule begins an extended run for the playoffs and the FedExCup and Sim isn't eligible to play for at least the next five weeks.
"I might go home to Australia or I might just keep my schedule on this Tour until it's time for me to play one on the big Tour," he said. "It's a good problem to have."
• Tiffany & Co., in conjunction with the Nationwide Tour, will recognize Michael Sim and his special achievement of securing a three-win promotion to the PGA TOUR with a special award in the near future.
• Omar Uresti missed only one fairway over his first 54 holes but wound up missing five during Sunday's final round. Uresti finished the week tied for second in driving accuracy (50 of 56).
• Michael Clark II tied the best round of the week with an 8-under 63 that included birdies on his final three holes. Clark's career best is a 62, which he posted during the first round of this year's BMW Charity Pro-Am.
• Clark's final-round 63 vaulted him to a solo third-place finish. It's his best effort on the Nationwide Tour since he won the 1998 Hershey Open -- a span of 107 tournaments.
• Blake Adams added another top-10 finish to his resume this week. Adams finished solo fourth, his seventh top-10 of the year and his fifth in his last six starts (2nd, 8th, T6, T7, T34 and 4th).
• Chad Collins, who has been runner-up the past two weeks, finished fifth this week. Collins' three-week stretch has moved him from No. 53 to No. 12 on the money list.
• Sal Spallone's T6 finish this week is his first top-10 of the year. Spallone's previous best this season was a T20 at the Melwood Prince George's County Open.
Front 9 Back 9 Total Round 1 35.417 35.250 70.667 Round 2 35.915 35.895 71.810 Round 3 34.574 34.412 68.985 Round 4 34.574 34.368 68.941 Cumulative 35.330 35.209 70.539
• Scoring averages for the week: