|The current Long Drive champion Phillis Meti from New Zealand was playing in Lalla Aicha Tour School for 2014 and gave the LET this interview.|
Phillis Meti, 26, was born in Auckland, New Zealand and started to play golf in 1998 before turning professional in 2009. She is now a member of the Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) and this is her fourth season on that tour.
Phillis is 1.8 meters tall and a powerful driver. She is current the New Zealand Long Drive Champion (she can hit it 315 meters far) and was the Women's World Long Drive Champion in 2006. She went to Auckland University of Technology and earned her Bachelor of Sport and Recreation.
We interviewed Phillis at the Lalla Aicha Tour School Pre-Qualifier in Rabat, where finished tied for 19th and went forward to the Final Qualifier.
Q: How and when did you start to play golf?
I started swinging a golf at a young age, 7 or 8 years old, with my father in New Zealand. I used to go with him. My dad has been playing for a long time. I used to play other sports, played netball, similar to basketball, did a lot of canoeing. At the beginning, golf was not my main sport… it is not very popular in New Zealand, but I continued on practicing to keep my dad happy. Then when I got older, I had a many opportunities playing netball and canoeing, but when I turned 21 I decided that I wanted to play golf and make a career out of it, teaching or playing.
Q: Is this the first time that you try to qualify for the tour? Tell us about what you have been doing since you decided to focus just in golf.
Yes, this is my first time. I tried to qualify for the LPGA in America, but it did not work. I have been playing professional events on the ALPG and average of 12 per year. I combine this with working in a golf course and coaching and in the operations, which I love. I love helping people.
Q: Tell us about the Long Driving Distance competitions
I won my first event in 2006, in Las Vegas. I played two more after that in 2007 and 2008 and finished second and second. In the first year it was 326 yards and on the second year 316 and the winner was 328 and third year, we hit shorter.
Q:: What´s the main difference with your driving between “normal” and the “Long Driving” competitions?
The driver that I have in my bag is significantly shorter than the other one, 42 inches long, rather than 44-45. It is mainly for control purposes, but they are quite well. It is 10.5 degrees. I really like big faces. I am looked after by Titleist, which is really nice. It took me a long time to find something that I really like. I have far bit of more control, it is coming through experience. Under pressure was not very good. I hit now around 250 meters. Now I do not care about distance, I care about the score.
Q: When did you decide to stop competing in this type of events?
When I turned 22, I think, I put myself in at the deep end and I just wanted to see if I could float. I would not say I did not play anything amazing, but I knew I could really gain experience but also making an impact, whether it would be through playing or being a role model for young kids. In the Pacific Islands, there is a huge amount of talent but nobody knows where to go. They need a leader and I would really like to do that. Being part of this project and helping other athletes to come forward. Do something for them.
Q: What is your goal in golf?
My goal in golf is to go to the Olympics in 2016 representing the Cook Islands.
Q: Tell us about your game.
My short game is getting better everyday, which is nice. It is taking a long time to find the right way and someone able to help me. But I still have a long way to go. My irons are ok, too. Putting is something that I struggle with. Short game is not the best part.
Q: What do you think you would need to improve to play in our tour?
My driving accuracy is getting better, I missed three fairways today (1st Round), which is nice. It was actually really nice to be able to play shots onto the green with no trees on my way. Sometimes my driver could get me into the rubbish. Also, improve the short game and putting and my mental attitude. Just remember what I need to remember.