Football stars Rooney, Figo and Shevchenko set to headline new golf event in Singapore

FOOTBALL'S biggest names from the past and present are set to take to the greens in Singapore. Not the greens of a football pitch, but the golf fairways at the Tanah Merah Country Club (TMCC) instead.

The Straits Times has learnt that Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney, former Ballon d'Or winners Luis Figo and Andriy Shevchenko, and ex-Argentinian hotshot Gabriel Batistuta are among 40 current and retired players slated to headline a Ryder Cup-style golf tournament at TMCC.

The June 24-26 showpiece will see Team England take on Team Rest of the World in matchplay golf under the captaincy of PGA Tour players, according to the tournament's official website.

While high-quality golf may not always be on show, the Players Cup is nonetheless a high-profile addition for TMCC's Garden course, which hosted the HSBC Women's Champions tournament from 2008 to 2012.

It is understood that the footballers who will take part are mostly either single-handicappers or scratch golfers.

TMCC general manager Kok Min Yee told The Straits Times: "TMCC is proud to be partnering this event and we are excited about it, but we cannot give any more information until after the official launch."

Ticketing details and the confirmed list of competitors are expected to be announced within the next month.

The tournament is organised by British-based company Worldwide Sports & Entertainment, which also runs the star-studded Icons Cup to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates next week.

Following a United States versus the Rest of the World format, the Icons Cup features sports personalities such as basketball great Ray Allen, 11-time surfing world champion Kelly Slater, and former top cricketers Brian Lara and Shane Warne.

The Americans will be captained by 15-time PGA Tour winner and 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples, while their opponents are to be led by 2011 British Open winner Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland.

Golf fans in Singapore will be hoping for similar big-name captains for the Players Cup.

If Rooney comes to play during his summer break, it will be the England star's first visit to Singapore. He leads a growing group of English Premier League footballers who play golf as a serious hobby.

The 29-year-old striker counts world No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy as a close friend, and the duo have appeared together in Nike advertisements.

United supporter Aaron Tham, 34, said: "We have been waiting a long time for Rooney to set foot in Singapore and showcase his skills on the pitch.

"If he comes for golf, I'm sure he can still count on huge Red Devils support from the sidelines. Not many people can say they've seen Rooney up close on a golf course."

nsanjay@sph.com.sg