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Michael Phelps signs golf deal with Ping

January 30, 2013|By Dan Loumena
  • Michael Phelps signs an autograph as he and playing partner Bubba Watson leave the 18th green in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Michael Phelps signs an autograph as he and playing partner Bubba Watson… (Hunter Martin / Getty Images )

Michael Phelps might not be done with the Olympics. A top-flight amateur golfer, Phelps has signed a deal with Ping.

“Hey, you never know,” Phelps told the Associated Press. “Being a golfer at the Olympics would be kind of fun.”

The greatest swimmer of all time, having set Olympic records with 18 gold medals and 22 overall, began playing with his new Ping clubs in the Phoenix Open pro-am tournament Wednesday. He recently toured the manufacturer's facilities for his club fitting.

“It's pretty wild,” the 6-foot-4 Phelps said of getting a custom set of clubs. “It's crazy to think this sport is so technical. A lot of sports are very technical, but one of the [Ping] guys said there's 50-something different shafts they can put on the clubs. I'm used to having a pair of goggles, a small, medium or large swim cap, and a jammer to put on, and that's it.”

Phelps' clubs will have a unique pattern with accents in both gold and red, white and blue.

“We've custom-built his clubs to ensure he has every chance to improve, and we believe he'll dedicate himself to golf with the same intensity he gave to swimming,” Ping Chairman and Chief Executive John A. Solheim said. “His global presence as a golfer will bring Ping tremendous exposure and just as importantly, shed additional light on the game in general.”

Phelps, who played with Masters champion Bubba Watson in the pro-am, admitted to being nervous during his round Wednesday.

“I was very nervous and my club was like shaking as I'm over the ball," said Phelps, who has been working with renowned swing coach Hank Haney. "I just pretty much had to try to swing the club as fast as I could. But it's wild. I have never heard people boo you, but I'm sure it's happened -- my face is just under water. So it was a little different experience. Hopefully, I have a chance to come back and play again.”

Watson believes that Phelps can have a future in golf.

“You can see he's an athlete and he's competitive, so he could be good if he practiced and put some time into it,” Watson said. “Any athlete of that level has a chance to be good at another sport.”

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