Golf is full of ironies. The moment that Michael Sim started talking about changing focus to coaching and getting off the touring merry-go-round, he has started playing some of his best golf.
Which leaves him in something of a dilemma.
As the Isuzu Queensland Open begins at Pelican Waters on Thursday, the 35-year-old will be one of the hot favourites to win, having secured the Coca-Cola Queensland PGA Championship at Toowoomba last weekend in a playoff.
He also won the Western Australian Open late last year on the Ladbrokes Pro-Am Series, even as he completes a bridging course at the PGA of Australia that is meant to lead him into another field: possibly coaching, or a day job as director of golf. As a new father with a wife, Michael Sim is at the crossroads professionally.
Do a couple of wins change his thinking? Not necessarily, because the Australasian tour, the only tour where he has status, goes into a few months of recess after next week’s New Zealand Open at Millbrook resort.
“The reality is that after next week in New Zealand, I potentially won’t play another four-round golf tournament until Darwin (the Northern Territory PGA), in September,” he said. “That’s the hardest part in Australia, and I’m sure most guys here face the same problem. Trying to get a card overseas, I think I’m still good enough to do it but I haven’t been able to.
“That’s why I decided to do the bridging program. I’m halfway through that at the moment. I’ll be completing that. Hopefully, I can play well in the next two events, finish the year off well and that gets me to the final stage of tour school rather than going through first and second stages.
“I still love competing. That shows last week and at the WA Open in October. It’s just a matter of getting the tournaments in.”
Sim is one of four past champions in the field, joining defending champion Jordan Zunic, Nick Cullen (2014) and David Bransdon (2015).
He won the title in 2017, as he continued a late-career resurgence.
An adopted Queenslander, who grew up in Western Australia, Sim was an outstanding amateur and his early success as a professional, where he reached a No. 34 world ranking, had many observers predicting big things for him. They never came to pass, although he has won multiple tournaments on the US secondary tour and he is still playing well.
“I’m married now with a little guy,” he said. “I don’t practise as many hours as I used to, but when I go to the golf course I tick everything off. My golf was good last week. So I’m not too sure what the future holds, but I certainly don’t want to give up playing. It’s just about opportunities and getting starts.”
Pelican Waters is hosting the Open for the first time, and after flooding in Queensland early this year, the course, opened in 2000, has come up beautifully. “The course is really dry,” said Sim. “It’s challenging. I’m not sure what the winning score will be. I think the guys who are members — Charlie Dann, Chris Crabtree, Shae Wools-Cobb — will get an advantage with the winds and the lay-out.”