From Shots On The Pitch To Pitch Shots
By Torleif Sorenson on 9/11/13
If you follow association football (or "soccer" as it is known in some English-speaking countries), then you probably know about Andriy Shevchenko.
If not, understand that Shevchenko is one of the most successful and important footballers ever to come from the Ukraine. During his career, he became the third-highest goal-scorer in the history of the UEFA Champions League and in overall European competition. For his efforts, he won a boat-load of personal awards and honors along the way. For his native Ukraine, he captained their national team to the quarter-finals in their first ever FIFA World Cup appearance, back in 2006. Last year, he retired from football to pursue politics, but has made more of a splash on the golf course, having played in several pro-am events.
On Thursday morning, "Sheva" will tee it up on the European Challenge Tour (the top-level minor-league circuit), playing in the Kharkov Superior Cup. This tournament is particularly important for Shevchenko and his fellow Ukrainians because it is the first major golf tournament ever to be held in that nation. They have worked overtime to make sure the course and supporting infrastructure are ready for an international debut.
For his part, European Challenge Tour assistant director José María Zamora has been impressed:
"I must say I did not think the conditions would be this good, because when arrived this week the course was in incredible condition, better than I could have imagined. We must thank the greenkeeping staff for everything that they have done, because they have truly done a superb job on this course and it is definitely in a condition fit for a tournament such as this.Shevchenko is participating not just as some celebrity ringer, but as a devoted golfer. Although he only took up the game in the last decade or so, he already plays to a 2 handicap — and hopes to play well enough to make the 36-hole cut.
"I actually started to play golf to escape from the pressure from football. I come on to a golf course and turn off my phone and just walk the course and hit some balls. It's one of the reasons why I started to play.Like Zamora, Shevchenko also has his eyes on the long-term prize: More golf courses and more golfers in the Ukraine:
"I love golf and I'm so happy that golf is starting to pick up in Ukraine and the people are starting to invest money long term. Golf is something much more than just sport, it's about attitude and so many other things put together, this is why I like it... It's the first event for me and also in Ukraine, so it's big for golf here."Here's hoping that it is a spark leading to an explosion of golfers and more courses in the Ukraine.
h/t Daily Mail
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Slow day for golf news I guess.
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