Brisbane | Barty signs up for Icon Golf Series

Ash Barty has signed up to play in an international golf exhibition just weeks after retiring from tennis while ranked No 1 in the world, adding fuel to speculation that her post-retirement sporting career will focus most likely on a new sport.

She’s absolutely terrific [Ash Barty]. She’s got those skill sets within her locker. With a bit of practice she can get lower than a three or four handicap. I know she’s really, really excited to be playing in New York, and she’s also really keen to bring the concept to Australia. Thomas Brookes, Icons Series Chief Executive

The Icon Series of exhibition tournaments features 23 other celebrities from the world of sport, and will take place at Liberty National in New Jersey on 30 June and 1 July, with further tournaments planned for Europe, Asia, and Barty’s native Australia.

Barty, who retired at the age of 25 last month, will represent a Rest of the World team captained by Ernie Els against a United States team led by another major winner, Fred Couples.

Icon Series organisers said that Barty will be joined by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, a Mexican pro boxer, Spanish professional football manager and former player Pep Guardiola, and Harry Kane, the Tottenham Hotspur and England Captain, in the 9-hole team match play competition against Fred Couples’ US team, which includes former multiple Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, boxing promoter and former pro boxer Oscar De La Hoya, and Ben Roethlisberger, the former American football quarterback.

Barty, who won 3 Grand Slam titles over her tennis career, plays off a handicap of 4 at her local golf club in Queensland, and is engaged to trainee golf professional Garry Kissick.

She decided to quit tennis last month after winning the Australian Open in January, Wimbledon last year and the French Open in 2019.

She is continuing a versatile approach to sports, which included her briefly pursuing a professional cricket career in 2015 during a nearly two-year sabbatical from tennis, and recently won the ladies’ golf competition at her home club, Brookwater, near Brisbane.

Golf Hall of Famer and compatriot Karrie Webb, who has 41 wins on the LPGA Tour, played a round with Barty in 2019 and, last month, said the tennis star had the talent to play golf at a high level and could become amateur golf champion of Australia one day.

“I could tell, if she puts some time into it, she will be a great player,” Webb told the Australian Associated Press.

“She’s absolutely terrific,” Icons Series Chief Executive Thomas Brookes told the Sydney Morning Herald about Barty and her involvement in the event, revealing how she impressed English golfer Ian Poulter at the US Open.

“She did a range session with Ian Poulter, who is one of our future captains in September, when she was at the US Open, and she had not hit a golf ball for a while.

“Ian said, ‘Just hit a few balls and we’ll see how you go’. She hit this ball, I don’t know how far. And he turned around and said, ‘You’re having me on. Let’s just take it a bit deeper. Can you do me a high fade?’ And she did a high fade.

“Then he said, ‘Can you do me a low draw?’ And she did a low draw. He said, ‘Oh my goodness, you are something else’.

“She’s got those skill sets within her locker. With a bit of practice she can get lower than a three or four handicap.

“I know she’s really, really excited to be playing in New York, and she’s also really keen to bring the concept to Australia.”

Speaking exclusively to Sportsmail, Els said: “They’re [fans] going to see some familiar faces in an unfamiliar role, so that’ll be interesting!

“But these guys are used to performing under pressure, so I have faith they’ll rise to the challenge, and we’ll see some good golf out there.

“The matches will be competitive, but played in the right spirit. It’s going to be fun to be a part of and definitely fun to watch.”

The teams will feature 14 athletes each, with the full line-ups set to be released by the Icon Series in the coming weeks.


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