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Maria set to fly the flag for Russia

11 Aug 16

1108OlympicsVerchenova

Russian golfer Maria Verchenova can be forgiven for putting her studies to become a PGA Professional to one side as she is representing her country in the Rio Olympics.

Verchenova, 30, is currently in her first year of the PGA training programme and, along with World #1 Lydia Ko and British pair Charley Hull and Catriona Matthew, is one of 60 women chasing medals.

Verchenova is attached to the Troon-managed Agalarov Estate Golf Club, Moscow where she will complete the PGA’s three-year training programme.

Peter Holland, director of golf at Agalarov, said: “I’ve known Maria for many years, she practises at our club, is doing her PGA training here and is a great girl and really dedicated to her playing.

“The Olympics and playing is her priority at the moment and from the club’s point of view we feel quite lucky to be overseeing her PGA training.

“She came to me a couple of years ago and asked if I would help with her PGA training and I’m very proud she has chosen us and The PGA.

“It’s been an honour to know her and be part of her PGA training and the whole club and Russia is keeping fingers crossed and wishing her every success in Rio.”

Verchenova started playing golf at 12 and has won Russian and Austrian Amateur titles and was the first full-time Russian member of the Ladies European Tour.

She is also a close friend of Russian tennis star Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who won the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The PGA training programme covers all aspects of the sport from sports science, equipment and technology through to retail, business and marketing and Verchenova is benefitting from it.

PGA Fellow Professional Craig Thomas, who delivered her Level 1 coaching assignment as part of her first year training, confirmed:

“She has found the PGA training programme to be a great help.

“I think it's great to see Tour professionals valuing the training that is delivered by the PGA.

“Also to have an Olympic athlete undertaking the training programme shows just how important it is.

“As a tutor it is great to have had the opportunity to have helped Maria to develop her coaching skills and of course we wish her every success in Rio.”

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