With his shirt soaked in champagne, an emotional Michael Sim celebrated his first Australian victory as a professional after a drama-charged final round of the Isuzu Queensland Open.
Sim, 33, emerged from a gripping four-way tie for the lead with a birdie on the 72nd hole to snatch a deserved win by a shot from Ollie Goss and Kieran Muir with early pacesetter Harry Bateman taking bogey on the final hole to slip a stroke further back.
After trailing by five strokes at one stage, Sim closed with a 69 to finish at nine-under par. Goss, who will have nightmares about his four putts from less than 20 feet on the 14th, finished with a 71 while Kiwi Muir stormed home with a 66 to share second place.
With Brisbane Lions AFL star Daniel Rich caddying for the tournament, Sim said he never seriously thought he would win until playing his sand-wedge approach from 98m on the 72nd hole.
“I never thought I was a chance to win until the wedge on the last. Daniel said there were three or four tied at the top of the leaderboard and that was the first I knew of it,’’ said Sim.
“The only time I’d previously looked at a leaderboard was after I’d bogeyed the fourth and Harry (Bateman) was 11-under and I was five shots back. I didn’t think I could win …”
Playing in the second last group, Sim calmly stroked the four metre putt into the cup to break the deadlock.
Sim, who relocated from Perth to the Gold Coast four years ago, has endured the cruel vagaries of golf many times over.
In 2009 he was ranked as high as No 34 in the world but his ranking had slipped to 863rd prior to the Isuzu Queensland Open victory.
“I know I can still do it but it has been a slow six or seven years,’’ he said.
“To be standing here as a winner is quite emotional to be honest. It is my first win as a professional in Australia.’’
Sim and his wife Simone are expecting their first child, a boy, in February.
“It will be a really happy time for our family,’’ he said. “Simone owns two pilates studios on the Gold Coast where I work out and I also do a fair bit of bike riding.’’
Sim will now tackle the gruelling six rounds of the third stage of Japan PGA qualifying school before contesting the Australian Open and Australian PGA later this year.
Goss, who travels to American on Monday to prepare for the second stage of PGA Tour qualifying school, hit the front at the turn at 10-under but dropped a shot at the par-3 11th, and then made a costly double-bogey on the 14th.
New Zealander Bateman took the lead at 11-under early on the final day but paid dearly for three bogeys on the homeward nine to settle for a 74.
Countryman Kieran Muir rocketed up the leaderboard to grab a share of the lead late when he birdied four of the last six holes.
Bateman shared fourth place at seven-under with Damien Jordan who battled the ‘flu all week and closed with a fine 67.
Outright sixth was Queenslander Brett Rankin who carded 66 to be six-under for the tournament while Redcliffe’s Douglas Klein completed an impressive week with a 67 to be leading amateur at five-under with Victorians Josh Younger (66 today) and James Marchesani (69).
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