Aussie champion Ash Barty is making her international sporting comeback this weekend and admits she will be “absolutely struggling”.
Ash Barty is making her return to international competition this weekend, thousands of miles away from Wimbledon.
The Aussie legend is set to play in the star-studded Icons Series golf event at Liberty National golf club in New Jersey, her first international competition since her shock retirement in March at the age of 25.
The Queenslander has shown how serious she is about exploring a golfing career by signing up for the Icons Series where she will be watched on by a global TV audience while going head to head with some of the biggest names in sport, including 23-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps, NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, boxing megastar Canelo Alvarez, English footballer Harry Kane and Aussie cricket legend Ricky Ponting.
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She is jumping straight in the deep end, as she promised she would do last month.
Barty is representing “Team World” in a Ryder Cup-like format against Team USA in a nine-hole team matchplay exhibition event.
Fred Couples will be leading the American team against four-time major champion Ernie Els and his international squad.
The second day of the competition will be broadcast around the world, including on Fox Sports and Kayo from 4am (AEST) on Sunday morning.
Barty won the ladies competition at the Brookwater Golf and Country Club in Brisbane’s outskirts in April and she plays off a handicap of 4.
But playing on the global stage is another level of pressure.
“I’m going to absolutely be struggling,” Barty told Fox Sports’ golf expert Paul Gow in an interview to air on Fox Sports and Kayo.
“My heart was beating so fast playing the club championships in our final with nothing on the line, so this is going to be a lot of fun.
“I will just soak it all in, if it (my first tee shot) goes badly it’s all right, it is what it is, just go out and enjoy it with a smile.”
Barty has always been a talented golfer and it was just over two years ago that Barty stunned American golfing great Tiger Woods at an exhibition event.
“She’s got a great swing, are you kidding me?” Woods exclaimed after Barty lofted a wedge into Melbourne’s Yarra River.
Barty also impressed English golfer Ian Poulter at the US Open, Icons Series chief executive Thomas Brookes revealed recently.
“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’s love for golf also played an important role in her love life. She first met fiance Garry Kissick at the Brookwater Golf and Country Club in 2016.
Kissick will caddie for her in the 10-hole match play tournament.
It has been a busy period for Barty. She recently was named an Officer of the Order of Australia as part of the Queen’s Birthday honours.
She is also working on a children’s book series.