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.
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.