Ash Barty fuels code switch speculation in major announcement

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·Sports Editor
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Ash Barty, pictured here with fiance Garry Kissick at the 2019 Presidents Cup golf tournament.
Ash Barty with fiance Garry Kissick at the 2019 Presidents Cup golf tournament. (AAP Image/Tim Carrafa)

Ash Barty has been announced as a participant in the Icons Series golf event in America in June, further fuelling speculation that she's eyeing a code switch.

Barty shocked the sporting world last month when she announced her sudden retirement from tennis at age 25.

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Rumours immediately began swirling that the Queenslander was keen on a switch to golf, however the three-time grand slam champion refused to speculate.

However Tuesday's announcement will only fuel the rumour mill even more.

The former World No.1 of tennis will play in a teams exhibition event in New Jersey from June 30 to July 1, alongside some of sport's biggest names.

Barty will be a headline act in the Icons Series, which will be played in the US for the first time.

Team USA, captained by 1992 Masters Champion Fred Couples, will take on a Rest of the World team captained by four-time major winner Ernie Els.

The late Shane Warne has played in a previous edition of the event, while Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, boxing icon Oscar De La Hoya and retired swimming champion Michael Phelps will all line up for the 2022 event.

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

She has been coy on her post-retirement plans after quitting tennis, 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.

Speculation rife that Ash Barty will switch to golf

The Australian Open champion won the ladies competition at her home club Brookwater, near Ipswich, earlier this month - playing off a handicap of five.

Seven-time 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 told AAP.

"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.

Ash Barty, pictured here at an event for the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne.
Ash Barty takes part in an event for the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne. (Photo by Bai Xuefei/Xinhua via Getty)

"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."

Icons Series chief executive Thomas Brookes told the Sydney Morning Herald that Barty had also impressed English golfer Ian Poulter.

“She’s absolutely terrific," Brookes said.

“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.”

with AAP

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