Sims busily making a name -- his own name -- for himself

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Michael Sims has grown more comfortable with his expectations as he has matured and learned from his golf experiences.
March 26, 2009
Dave Lagarde, Contributor

BROUSSARD, La. -- The surname is Sims. And please make sure the 's' is never dropped. It's important for recognition purposes.

That simple exercise eliminates some, but not all, of the mistaken identity -- not to mention Bermudan anger -- whenever Australian Michael Sim and Michael Sims, a Bermuda native, cross paths in an event.

Inside the Numbers
Sims thru 18 Holes
Category Total Rank
Eagles 0 N/A
Birdies 8 1
Pars 9 T76
Bogeys 1 T87
Double Bogeys 0 N/A
Other 0 N/A
Driving Accuracy 61.5% T87
Driving Distance 287.0 yds. T33
Greens in Regulation 83.3% T11
Putts per Round 26.0 T76
Putts per GIR 1.533 5
Sand Saves 0 N/A

"That happens all the time,'' Sims said of the name confusion. "I'll get text messages from friends congratulating me on playing well.

"I'll be like, 'Dude, I'm not even playing this week. I'm in Georgia. But what did I do?'"

It happens not only among golf fans and friends, but also among golf manufacturing companies. Some of Sims' clubs have been shipped to Sim in Australia. Ditto Sim's to Sims at his residence in St. Simons Island, Ga. It's understandable given the surname similarities. But other than the fact that they are both professional golfers, the Sim-Sims comparison ends there.

Sim, 24, already has carved out a niche for himself in the golf world's upper echelon. The Australian prodigy won on the Nationwide Tour in 2006 and was a member of the PGA TOUR in 2007 when a stress fracture in his back put him on the shelf.

Sims, 30, is still whittling, attempting to climb a ladder where each rung can be as slippery as an icy sidewalk. If a circuit has Tour in its title, chances are good Sims has been there, played in it, with the exception of The Big Show, the one ever pro aspires to join.

Included in his many stops are the Tour de las Americas, the Canadian Tour, the New England Tour, Hooters Tour, the Golden Bear Tour and the Nationwide Tour. Last year he added a notch to his tour belt, competing on the eGolf Tarheel Tour.

This week, though, Sims' aim is a little higher. He Monday qualified into the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by Dynamic Industries, and then, on this damp South Louisiana Thursday, thrust himself into the leader board conversation of the $550,000 event at Le Triomphe Country Club where lift, clean and place was the order of weather-delayed day.

Sims did it with an eight-birdie, one-bogey 64 that was good enough to tie veteran Fran Quinn for the first-round lead when play was suspended by darkness. It was a round that will have the spines of every golf-conscious Bermudan tingling with excitement. Save for Kim Swan, who competed on the European PGA Tour in the early 1970s, and Sims, the tiny island has produced no other professional golfers of note.

"People will stop me and stop my parents on the streets,'' said Sims, who hits his irons with laser-like accuracy Thursday. "They always have such kind things to say. It's great. I get a lot of support from home. Bermuda is a very proud country of sportsmen.''

Sims turned professional in 2001 after an outstanding summer in which he won the North and South Amateur, the New England Open and reached the quarterfinals of the United States Amateur. He said the hopes of his country intimidated him early in his career. He has grown more comfortable with the expectations as he has matured and learned from his golf experiences, the majority of them humbling.

But Sims isn't ready to give up despite the fact he has been to the PGA TOUR's Qualifying Tournament seven times and been semi-successful just twice. He earned -- and lost -- conditional membership on the Nationwide Tour in 2007 and he has it again in 2009.

"It's a process for me,'' he said. "But I feel like I'm moving forward with it. I'm certainly a step ahead of where I was last year.''

That was on the Tarheel Tour, where he did score a victory. He also used the time wisely, looking to eliminate the flaws that dragged him down on his first crack at the Nationwide Tour. He lacked confidence and experience. He also got caught up with all the distractions and never located a comfort level. He believes he is more centered now.

That showed after his round Thursday when Sims spoke placidly about the eight birdie putts he made that covered just 51 feet. There wasn't a trace of excitement in his voice.

"Don't get me wrong, this is an extremely great way to start,'' he said. "But this is just the first round. I'm just taking it one minute at a time.''

Sims laughed when he told he sounded so laid back a listener would not be able to discern whether he shot 64 or 74.

"Hey,'' he said, "I'm from an island.''

About then a Nationwide Tour media official noticed the name on Sims' caddy bib was misspelled. The funny part was Michael was butchered to read "Micheal.'' The 'Sims' was just fine.

"Want me to fix that?'' the media official inquired.

Sims looked incredulous.

"I'm not superstitious or anything,'' he said sheepishly. "But no, not right now.''