VENICE, Fla. — They look alike, sound the same and have done just about everything together, but luckily sisters Morgane Metraux (Lausanne, Switzerland) and Kim Metraux (Lausanne, Switzerland) have different swing techniques so one can tell them apart.
Morgane is right-hand dominant, while Kim plays left-handed. They grew up on the links at Lausanne Golf Club, picking up the game when Kim was 12 and Morgane was 10. From their native land, to attending Florida State University at the same time and both graduating this past May, the two have developed into exceptional talents.
“When we started golf, it was a family thing to do on holidays, a hobby,” said Morgane. “We got recruited by different schools, but realized there was a chance we could go somewhere together. We ended up liking the same place and that’s what helped make our decision.”
As siblings, they have a natural competitive nature. As professional athletes, those instincts are taken up a notch. There’s no doubt their relationship brings out the best in one another, which leads to the obvious question. Who is better?
“We always get that,” Kim said laughingly. “We have always said it depends on the week, sometimes she is playing better and sometimes I am. It’s just nice to have someone to get challenged by and practice with. We are really close, so it has made things easier being so far from home and sharing memories.”
This week, the Metraux sisters will tee it up in Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament and see how they fare against an international field of 193 players from 42 different countries and 30 states.
Even with so much in common, the two took alternate paths to this point. Morgane advanced straight to Plantation Golf & Country Club based on her Symetra Tour status, while Kim finished tied for 33rd at 1-over par in Stage I to continue the pursuit of her dream to play on the LPGA Tour.
“I believed I could make it through and come here, so it was nice to see that happen and not have to find different plans for next year,” said Kim, who opens her first round tomorrow at 12:20 p.m. ET off No. 10 on the Panther Course. “It is reassuring, but now I am excited to see what happens this week and in the future. I feel like I have become more calm on the course, learned to accept what shots I hit and do the best out of that situation.”
Following a missed cut in her Symetra Tour debut at the Four Winds Invitational, Morgane didn’t play the weekend only one other time over the final 12 events in her rookie campaign. As for Kim, she competed on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Access Series this year and recorded four top-20 finishes in six starts.
With their paths taking separate ways for a short time, the Metraux sisters are finally back together. Reunited, they look to push each other down the same path with the same goal of reaching the highest level in women’s professional golf.
“For me it is a little different than it is for her because she still has [at least] Symetra Tour status to get,” said Morgane, who begins play in the first round at 12:42 p.m. ET off No. 10 on the Bobcat Course. “I have my status already, so this is just to go further. It’s a little different, but maybe we will both play better and move on together.”
AS INDIA’S GOLF COMMUNITY GROWS, NICOLLET HELPING PAVE THE WAY
In today’s digital world, Sharmila Nicollet (Bangalore, India) is easily the most recognizable Indian female golfer with greater than 478,000 Twitter followers and over 125,000 fans on Instagram.
Although golf succumbs to cricket and soccer as far as popularity in a nation of more than 1.3 billion people, it is growing at a steady rate thanks to players like Nicollet.
“To see many Indians out there performing on a world stage like the PGA and LPGA has changed the perspective of golf in India,” said Nicollet. “Many people look at it as a lucrative sport now and I see a lot more Indians out trying to make it big. For the first time, Stage I of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament had 8-10 Indians. That’s great for golf in India which is growing so fast and is only going to get bigger and better in the coming years.”
While no Indian woman has ever won a LPGA Tour event, the landscape of the sport in the country has been altered by the success of a couple individuals. At No. 97 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Aditi Ashok is the highest-ranked female professional since Simi Mehra, who played on Tour for several years beginning in 1997. She attained a career-high ranking of No. 17 in 1998.
Meanwhile, three natives to India are in the field this week for Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. In addition to Nicollet, Nikita Arjun (Bangalore, India) and Neha Tripathi (Gurgaon, India) continue to chase their dreams. Tripathi will have some experience on her side at Plantation Golf & Country Club as Mehra is her caddy for the week.
“It’s nice to have some familiarity, fellow Indians out here,” Nicollet said. “Neha and me are staying together. Everyone is in their own groups, so it’s great to have someone from back home and the three of us supporting each other. This is my first time out here and it is exciting. The biggest challenge is the wind. You have to trust decisions and judgment with clubs, that is going to be key this week.”
Nicollet was the highest Indian finisher at Stage I, as she shot 2-over par to end in a tie for 46th and advance comfortably within the cut line. Immediately after her time in SoCal, she went straight to Orlando to begin preparation for Stage II.
Between the gym and training sessions with coach Gary Gilchrist, the first Indian golfer to qualify for the China Ladies PGA Tour feels as ready as she could be.
“I started working with him in August last year and my game has got so much better because he is a great mentor and coach,” said Nicollet. “You can’t go wrong with the facilities in the U.S. and my dream is to be on the LPGA. I have worked on a lot of different aspects of my game and came to Venice a week before to get used to the conditions.”
Tomorrow, Nicollet will put it all to the test when she heads out from No. 10 on the Bobcat Course at 1:37 p.m. ET in pursuit of a spot in the Q-Series field.
“I comfortably made it through Stage I, which means my game is pretty good,” Nicollet said. “It is good confidence going into this and I just need to play average golf, nothing fancy. I have to trust the process, stay positive and stick to my gameplan, keep it simple by hitting fairways and greens in regulation. That’s all that matters this week.”