Ash Barty is set to mingle with the biggest names in world sport after a cross-code switch is her next move following her retirement from tennis.
Ash Barty is trading her tennis racquet for some golf clubs.
The Aussie superstar, who shocked the world by announcing her retirement from professional tennis aged just 25 last month, is slated to play in a global golf tournament that will be televised across Australia.
Watch LIVE coverage from The USPGA Tour with Fox Sports on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
The tournament — part of the inaugural Icons Series — will take place at the Liberty National course in New Jersey, America, in June.
It’s a nine-hole team matchplay exhibition event that will feature some of global sport’s biggest names including boxing megastar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and England striker Harry Kane.
Golf legend Ernie Els will captain the Rest of the World team while Fred Couples will lead Team USA.
“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.”
Barty is a gun golfer, as is her fiance Garry Kissick, who is hoping to crack it on the pro tour. The Queenslander stunned Tiger Woods with her smooth swing in Melbourne a couple of years ago and loves hitting the fairways whenever she gets the chance.
Earlier this month Barty eased into life back home by winning the ladies competition at the Brookwater Golf and Country Club in Brisbane’s outskirts. The three-time grand slam winner, who plays off a handicap of four, finished first in a field of five women — winning a cool $30 for her efforts.
She will face some slightly more high-profile opponents in the Icons Series. Couple’s American outfit will feature the likes of Olympic legend Michael Phelps and NFL star Ben Roethlisberger.
The event will reportedly be broadcast by major US network NBC and Barty is keen to see the Icons Series Down Under.
“I’m excited to be part of the Icons Series and I hope through my participation in the series that we can encourage more women and girls to participate in golf around the world,” Barty said, per the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The series is also a great opportunity for athletes to have an impact on local community and charity projects in each of the host destinations.
“It’s such a unique opportunity to have fun, test yourself and compete against the world’s greatest athletes in a sport that we are all so passionate about.”
Els told the Daily Mail it will be an interesting spectacle seeing top athletes come together to compete in a different environment.
“They’re (fans) going to see some familiar faces in an unfamiliar role, so that’ll be interesting!” Els said.
“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.”