From tennis and cricket to golf: Ash Barty’s next sporting challenge?
When Ash Barty made the shock decision last month to retire from tennis while she is No. 1 in the women’s rankings, there was much speculation as to what the talented Aussie athlete might do next.
It was the second time the three-time Grand Slam winner had said goodbye to tennis – and during her first break she turned to cricket, where she played professionally for the Brisbane Heat in the women’s Big Bash League.
According to announced Barty tennis colleague Simona Halep joked that she physically had “nothing left to give”. Twitter: “What’s next for you? Grand Slam champion in golf?!”
It seems Halep was up to something…
Barty, Pep and Kane on Team ROTW
The 25-year-old has now “fueled speculation” she could “attempt a top-level career in a third sport” by signing up for a global golf exhibition series that BBC reported. An avid amateur golfer with a reported handicap of four, she will play the new golf Icon Series starting this summer.
Barty revealed her next sporting move after she “wowed viewers in a secret training session” during last year’s US Open, she said The Sydney Morning Herald. And she told the newspaper it was such a “unique opportunity to have fun, test yourself and compete” at the Icons event. “I hope that by participating in the series, we can encourage more women and girls to play golf around the world.”
The Icons Series pits two teams of 12 sports stars against each other in a series of events in a match-play format. Barty will represent a team from the rest of the world led by Ernie Els against a team from the United States led by another big winner, Fred Couples. The first event will be held at Liberty National in New Jersey in June, with additional tournaments planned for Europe, Asia and Australia.
She will compete for the Rest of the World team alongside sports greats such as Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, England captain Harry Kane and Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez. Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps and NFL’s Ben Roethlisberger play for Team USA.
She is “something else”
Barty’s fiancé, Garry Kissick, is a PGA Trainee Professional and her participation in the Icons series is the “firmest indication” that she will “devote more time to golf after playing tennis,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
While Tiger Woods was stunned by Barty’s swipe at a Presidents Cup Event In 2019, Karrie Webb of the Golf Hall of Fame said last month that her compatriot had the finesse that could make her a golf champion. Australian Associated Press reported. “She’s a really hands-on player and one day I could say that if she puts in some time, she’s going to be a great player,” Webb said.
Icons Series executive director Thomas Brookes agreed, saying Barty’s golf skills are “absolutely terrific”. He told the Herald and The Age: “She did a range session with Ian Poulter when she was at the US Open and she hadn’t hit a golf ball in a while. Ian said: “Just hit some balls and we’ll see how you do”.
“She hit that ball, I don’t know how far. And he turned around and said, ‘You’re turning me on. Let’s just dig a little deeper. Can you do a highfade for me?’ And she did a high fade. Then he said, “Can you make me a low draw?” And she made a low draw. He said, ‘Oh my god, you’re something else’. She has these skills in her locker. With a bit of practice, she can reach less than a three or four handicap.”
Webb could see Barty becoming Australian amateur champion one day. “I can see her working on her game and being good enough to be one of Australia’s best players for sure.”
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/sport/golf/956467/from-tennis-cricket-to-golf-ash-barty-next-sporting-challenge From tennis and cricket to golf: Ash Barty’s next sporting challenge?