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LDA Player of the Month – Dustin Merrill

https://www.longdrivers.com/player-of-the-month/dustin-merrill

DeMerrillizer is DeWinner at DeMesquite Shootout. How does that headline grab you?
It’s the greatest feeling in DeWorld.

Good answer. Seriously, though, congratulations on winning your first LDA Tour title. You’re the LDA Player of the Month.
Thank you very much. It took me a long time to put everything together in order to win a tournament with so many great hitters. Ten years of sweat and hard work finally came to fruition.

You’ve come close to winning tour events before. How does it feel to finally get over the hump?
It’s amazing. No more feelings of shoulda, coulda, woulda.

How difficult was it to stay patient while you waited on that first tour win? 
For me personally, everything else that comes along with being in long drive made it bearable. The camaraderie, training for a goal, and traveling provided a monthly routine for me to look forward to. Sometimes the daily grind of working towards a goal can be just as enjoyable as reaching it.

What made the difference in the Mesquite Shootout last Sunday? Something physical? Mental? Or a combination of the two?
I would say a combination of both. It’s hard to stay hydrated in Mesquite. I drank tons of water and ate plenty of food in the players tent (by the way, big thanks to the volunteers in there!). Mentally, I had some pretty good tunnel vision this time. I didn’t think about anything other than my takeaway or backswing. I definitely had zero thoughts of failure or success.

How much confidence did you derive from a solid finish (top 16) at the 2011 RE/MAX WLDC?
A fair amount, I would say. The biggest confidence boost came from my new equipment. I made a few tweaks with my set up for this tournament and really felt good with the changes. I hope competitors realize that any time you can win a dollar with the talent in the field now is nothing to sneeze at

Did you feel any extra nerves or jitters when you reached the final round against Ryan Cooper? If so, what did you do to keep calm and focused?
Like I mentioned earlier, I only thought about my backswing. That’s my trigger for a good shot. I know before I even hit the ball if it’s killed or not. Also, I’ve been in the finals of the Mesquite Shootout a couple times now. I quit thinking and hit the ball. I also knew that Ryan was going to put three balls in the grid, minimum. So I needed one great one.

Please describe your winning drive for those not fortunate enough to have witnessed it.
I wish I could. My tunnel vision was so bad I didn’t even hear how far it went. I found out about two hours after the event was over that the distance was 399. All I knew was I hit a solid shot right down the gut. I also heard a rumor the ball backed up about four or five yards when it landed … no, wait, I’m joking.

Was that your best ball of the finals?
I hit my best ball (405 yards) in the semifinal match against Mike Dobbyn. Mike’s another great competitor who is always in contention for every title. I knew if I could replicate two-thirds of that ball in the finals that I would have a shot at winning. I knew Ryan Cooper fills the grid up every set, so I had to put some pop on at least one ball to have a chance.

What’s on your long drive docket this year? Have you mapped out a schedule of which events you’ll attend? 
I plan on attending almost everything, or as much as my company will allow. They’re great about letting me compete and represent the core values of which they strive to meet every day. I believe the Alligator Alley Shootout may be next up. Looking forward to the whole season.

What goals have you set for the 2012 season?
Well, one goal was to win, so I can cross that off. Next goal is to compete every time just as hard as I did at the Mesquite Shootout. If I do that, I think I’ll take my chances and take any successes or failures that come my way.

You’ve been involved hosting the RE/MAX regional in St. Louis for a number of years. Will that involvement continue?
Yes, I believe we just submitted dates for our locals this summer and we will continue to host the regionals on the first weekend of August at Crystal Springs Quarry Driving Range.

Any shout-outs at this time?
First, to my family for their endless support. Second, to Steve Magan and Steve Nickerson, a couple of best friends who showed me the ropes early on. Without their help I would have been out of the sport long ago. Third, to Charles Kallassy for training me and giving me the edge. Fourth, to Neil Simpson at Acropolis Golf. I think he’s really found something interesting in the new Ares head. Fifth, to Penley Golf for making a solid shaft and for coming out for the long drive kickoff weekend. Sixth, to my good buddies in Fredericktown, my hometown, who always support me and check in to see my progress. Lastly, to everyone who has supported me over the last ten years.

Again, congratulations on your selection as LDA Player of the Month.
Thank you, LDA. I’d also like to thank, on behalf of myself and other LDA Tour competitors, companies like RE/MAX, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Slazenger and others that provide us with an opportunity to compete. We are truly thankful.

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