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Ash Barty: former tennis world No 1 to play in Icons Series golf event

Ash Barty will return to the world stage of sport wielding a golf club rather than a tennis racket. The former world No 1 will play in a teams exhibition event in New Jersey from 30 June 30 to 1 July, alongside some of sport’s biggest names.

Barty, who announced her shock retirement last month aged just 25, will be a headline act in the Icons Series which will be played in the US for the first time. Team USA, captained by the 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples, will take on a Rest of the World team captained by the four-times major winner Ernie Els.

The late Shane Warne has played in a previous edition while this time the Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, former boxer Oscar De La Hoya and retired swimmer Michael Phelps will line up.

The June tournament is a nine-hole team match-play format at Liberty National. Barty is reportedly looking to bring the event to Australia next year.

She has been coy on her post-retirement plans, although they are sure to involve golf in some way as she lives on a golf course with her fiance Garry Kissick, a PGA trainee professional.

The three-times grand slam tennis champion won the ladies competition at her home club Brookwater, near Ipswich, this month, playing off a handicap of five.

The seven-times major winner Karrie Webb played a round with her at Victoria Golf Club in 2019 and told AAP that Barty had the talent to make it on the LPGA tour.

“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. “It was everything – she hit the ball a long way – but a lot of athletes are very hand-eye co-ordinated and they get out there and they’re fairly decent at hitting the ball.

“When it comes to the finesse shots, sometimes that’s where they struggle, but she’s got good hands from how she plays tennis. You could tell she had good hands and she’d developed a good short game and that just needs sharpening.”

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