Unlike many of his fellow Nationwide players, Michael Sim didn't have to sweat it out during last week's season-ending Tour Championship. The Australian's monster year already had ensured him one of the 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2010 season and his third Nationwide win of the season in August had given him an automatic "battlefield promotion" to the big show.
The problem for Sim has been his timing. His call-up coincided with the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, tournaments with limited fields reserved for those qualifying through PGA Tour events.
The PGA Tour's Fall Series hasn't been much kinder. With spots at a premium for those trying to secure their playing privileges for next year by way of the top 125 on the money list, Sim only has managed to play in the recent Turning Stone Resort Championship, where he finished tied for 55th place.
Sim had another setback two years ago in his rookie season on the PGA Tour when he suffered a stress fracture of the spine. He was only able to play in 17 events and despite being given a medical exemption of five extra events in 2008, was unable to earn enough money to keep his card.
Still, while most graduates of either the Nationwide or Q-School have trouble sticking on the PGA Tour, Sim appears a safe bet to buck the trend when he ventures out full time in January. Currently ranked No. 53 in the world, Sim also made the cut at both the PGA Championship and U.S. Open this year, where he didn't look fazed in shooting a final-round 72 at Bethpage Black while playing with Tiger Woods.
Oh, and then there's his resume from the Nationwide Tour, where he won three times in a span of eight starts and shattered the circuit's money record with $644,142 in earnings over just 14 starts. Yeah, you read that right. He made that much money on the Nationwide Tour. To illustrate how hard that is to do, Sim's payday of $100,308 for finishing in a tie for 18th place at the U.S. Open in June wasn't far off from any of his three winner's checks.
But plenty of more opportunities should await him at golf's highest level once he emerges from this state of limbo between professional tours. Sim just had his 25th birthday October 23rd and he'll celebrate by actually getting to play in this week's Viking Classic. Even if it is the second-to-last event of the official PGA Tour season.
-- Alex Myers
(Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)