Kiwi professional Phillis Meti, just returned from finishing third in the world long drive championship, will compete in the McKayson New Zealand Women's Open next week.
Organisers have given Meti, the 2016 world long drive champion, a wild card entry in to the $1.85 million event to be played at Windross Farm at Ardmore starting next Thursday. The Open, in its ninth year, will be part of the global LPGA Tour for the first time.
Meti, who has played in the Open five times, is thrilled to be part of the event this year.
"I am super honoured. This event has a bunch of the best women golfers in the world and it is a huge honour to be part of the first LPGA event in New Zealand," Meti said.
While many will be looking for some booming drives, Meti says her involvement is closer to the heart.
"I want to be more of an ambassador than a sideshow. This is a huge chance for our young players and kids to watch these amazing players and it sets a benchmark for them to aspire to. If I can help, then this is about giving back for me to reach out to more young girls to take up this game."
It marks a full circle for the 30-year-old who won the world long drive title as a teenager in 2006, and was runner-up for the next two years before turning professional on to the Australian Ladies Professional Golf and Asian Tours for the next seven years.
Meti returned to New Zealand after her father and mentor Raz was diagnosed with cancer, and died in 2015. She took the time to complete her qualification in sport and recreation management, becoming golf manager at Aviation Golf Club before taking up a role managing corporate events at Royal Auckland Golf Club.
With leave in hand last year, Meti decided to return to the long drive world championship "for some fun" and ended up winning.
This led her to return to the long drive competition this year, with its ownership moving to the Golf Channel which has led to the growth in other events and more emphasis on women. Two months ago at one of these events in Denver, Meti set a new world record of 406 yards (371 metres).
Meti has just returned from finishing third in the world championship, losing out in the semifinal when her final drive, which was well ahead of her rival, was outside the time limit by two seconds.
"My first seven drives were out of bounds and my opponent had only one drive in place. My final shot was bit longer but I had just run out of time."