Faulty Sim Card

By Randall MellOctober 24, 2009, 1:00 am

Michael Sims eloquence is as impressive as his shot making.

Though the Australian is privately frustrated with the PGA Tour, he didnt whine about it upon his arrival for this weeks Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island in Charleston, S.C.

Michael Sim
Michael Sim wants to let his clubs do his talking. (Getty Images)

He was straight forward in outlining his concerns directly to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem during a Tour function on the eve of the event. He used his clubs to follow up with a memo to Tour headquarters that was as powerful as it was respectful.

Sim poured in eight consecutive birdies on his way to an 8-under-par 64.

By moving atop the leaderboard after the first round of the season-ending event, Sim raised an important question: Why is he playing?

After winning whats commonly called a battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour in late August with his third Nationwide Tour victory of the season, shouldnt Sim be playing the Frys.com Open this week?

What is the point of your superiors trumpeting your promotion when theyre actually keeping you in the same old job?

Sim, who turned 25 Friday, is playing the Nationwide Tour Championship because he couldnt get access to the Frys.com Open. His newly promoted status isnt good enough to get him into this weeks Fall Series event. In fact, it wasnt good enough to get him into Justin Timberlakes event in Las Vegas last week, either. The only Fall Series event Sim has played is the Turning Stone Resort Championship, and he got into that with a sponsors exemption.

When Sim won the Christmas in October tournament in Kansas City in August, he became the ninth player in Nationwide Tour history to win a same-season promotion to the PGA Tour. Its a terrific promotion on multiple levels for the PGA Tours developmental circuit, but it doesnt work anymore.

The lack of access Sim is experiencing ought to frustrate every pro who tried to win the promotion. It should frustrate sponsors who align with the tour. It feels like false advertising.

In fairness to the PGA Tour, it is important to point out that Sims plight is partly due to the Tours new FedEx Cup schedule. The so-called battlefield promotion category was instituted in 1997. That was before the FedEx Cup and the Fall Series. The nature of the FedEx Cup, where the playoffs eat up a five-week chunk of the schedule, has changed the nature of the way the rank-and-file play. There is now a mad rush to get into events just before the playoffs begin and then into the limited five Fall Series events afterward.

As winner of a battlefield promotion, Sim moved to No. 25 on the Tours All-Exempt Priority Rankings list. That ranking falls behind last years Q-School and Nationwide Tour graduates. Next year, he moves to No. 22 as a fully exempt player, ahead of this years Q-School and Nationwide Tour grads.

The promotion was designed to be a conditional access category, says Andy Pazder, the PGA Tours senior vice president of tournament administration. The thought process is that you wanted to give Q-School and Nationwide Tour graduates the opportunity to get into as many tournaments as possible. The thinking was that the person who wins the promotion should come behind that group because he has fully exempt status locked up for the following year. It might be oversimplifying by saying the promotion was supposed to be icing on the cake.

Event: Nationwide Tour Championship

Before the FedEx Cup, there was more icing to go around.

After Sim failed to get into Justin Timberlake's event last week, he played the Nationwide Tour's Miccosukee Championship.

'My attitude wasn't very good last week,' Sim said. 'I wanted to be playing in Las Vegas. I'm back to where I was mentally now. I want to win this week.'

The dilemma for the PGA Tour is by improving the priority ranking of a battlefield promotion, it hurts the previous years Q-School and Nationwide Tour grads who are fighting to keep their cards.

Michael understands that its important for guys on the top 125 bubble to have access, says Bud Martin of SFX Golf, Sims agent. Hes a great kid, and he doesnt want to take an opportunity away from someone else. But what it really comes down to is an issue of what is a battlefield promotion? What is the perception? How is it marketed?

The bottom line is that there is no getting around the feeling that Sim has been wronged, that something promised him isnt being delivered. Martin says thats the issue Sim wants Finchem and PGA Tour officials to understand, because there will be others who feel this sting.

I wouldnt be shocked if the rules were changed, Martin said.

Martin said he wouldnt mind seeing the PGA Tour grant three-time Nationwide Tour winners like Sim exemptions into Fall Series events.

We always look at our eligibility to make sure we think it matches up with our objectives, Pazder said. But I wouldnt say change is imminent.

Without change, the Nationwide Tour risks looking like a tour that doesnt live up to its promise. And promise is what that tour is all about.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.