From tennis and cricket to golf: Ash Barty’s next sporting challenge?
After retiring from tennis the talented Australian will play in a golf exhibition series
When Ash Barty made the shock decision last month to retire from tennis, while No.1 in the women’s rankings, there was big speculation on what the talented Australian sportswoman could do next.
It was the second time that the three-time grand slam champion had walked away from tennis – and during her first break she turned her attention to cricket where she played professionally for Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League.
It seems like Halep was on to something…
Barty, Pep and Kane on Team ROTW
The 25-year-old has now “fuelled speculation” she may attempt “a top-level career in a third sport” by signing up for a global golf exhibition series, the BBC reported. A keen amateur golfer with a reported handicap of four, she will play in the new Icons Series which begins this summer.
Barty revealed her next sporting move after “wowing onlookers in a secret practice range session” during last year’s US Open, said The Sydney Morning Herald. And she told the paper it was such a “unique opportunity to have fun, test yourself and compete” in the Icons event. “I hope through my participation in the series that we can encourage more women and girls to participate in golf around the world.”
The Icons Series will see two teams of 12 sporting stars play in a series of competitive matchplay format events. Barty will represent a Rest of the World team captained by Ernie Els against a United States team led by another major winner, Fred Couples. The first event will take place at Liberty National in New Jersey in June with further tournaments planned for Europe, Asia and Australia.
She will line up for the Rest of the World team alongside sporting 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 will 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 of her post-tennis time to golf”, said The Sydney Morning Herald.
While Tiger Woods was stunned by Barty’s swing at a Presidents Cup event in 2019, Golf Hall of Famer Karrie Webb said last month that her compatriot has the finesse that could make her a golf champion, Australian Associated Press reported. “She’s a really handy player and just that one day I could tell if she puts some time into it she will be a great player,” Webb said.
Icons Series chief executive Thomas Brookes agreed and said Barty’s golf skills were “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 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.”
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 the best players in Australia for sure.”