Kiev – Ukrainian football legend Andriy Shevchenko faces a new challenge this week as he tries out his golf skills on the European Challenge Tour at the Superior Cup in Kharkiv.
Shevchenko, who plays off a handicap of two, is trying his hand at competitive golf after a foray into politics in last year's parliamentary elections in Ukraine ended in failure and ridicule.
“This is the first big event for me and of course it is the first event here in Ukraine so it's a huge event for golf in this country,” he told the European Tour website.
“The course is quite difficult. I'm happy with my game at the moment and I'm really happy to be here.”
“I have played with many good players in Pro-Ams but it's different here. I'm looking forward to it and hope I play well but it's my first event and I just want to have a good time and enjoy the week.”
The players of the European Top-20 will compete in the 200,000-euro event which gets under way Thursday at the course of the local Superior Golf Club and Spa Resort.
Andrea Pavan, fresh from his second win of the season, heads the field as well as 11 tournament winners from the season so far including Dylan Frittelli and Jens Fahrbring.
Also teeing up at the event will be Russian tennis icon Yevgeny Kafelnikov who is hoping to represent Russia in golf at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Shevchenko, who won Ballon d'Or in 2004 as the European Player of the Year, has also said he wants to represent his country in Brazil where golf returns as an Olympic sport for the first time since 1904.
However, the level of his playing remains uncertain as it has never been subjected to any serious pressure at professional tournaments.
Earlier this year Shevchenko received his pro-level football coaching license after finishing a special education course in Kiev.
During last October's parliamentary elections, the Ukraine Forward! movement co-fronted by Shevchenko failed to make it into parliament outright and won just a minor percentage of the vote. – Sapa-AFP