Freddy Adu is consumed by soccer these days. Just 15 years old, he has already played a full season for D.C. United, winning the MLS championship as a rookie last fall, and represented the United States at two youth world championships. Almost every day he is working on his ball skills or his physical conditioning in pursuit of becoming perhaps the most accomplished American soccer player in history.
But there are times when Freddy needs to get away and, like so many athletes in team sports, he has found his escape on the links. There's no threat of him dropping MLS for Q-School or the PGA, but when Freddy isn't at RFK Stadium, you might find him on the fairway of a local course.
D.C. United soccer player Freddy Adu, shown here at a charity tournament last fall at Reston National Golf Course. He was 10 when he picked up his first club -- and proceeded to par the first hole he played.
Golf and soccer actually cover some common ground. The modern-day versions of both sports were born in Britain. You swing a golf club, you play for a soccer club. You pitch a golf shot, you play on a soccer pitch. Neither game allows you to propel the ball with your hands (unless you're a goalie or a hacker). Both sports have chips, draws, flags and out of bounds. And of course, a ball is the centerpiece of competition.
Although United was busy preparing for its 2005 season, Adu took time out to discuss his interest in golf.
When did you start playing golf?
About five years ago. Some of my friends introduced me to it, and I've loved it every since. I had never played before, I didn't know what to expect. It's good because we went to the driving range, I took a couple of swings, they taught me the right form and everything, and then the first hole I ever played, I parred it. It was a-mazing!
So you had it figured out right away?
(laughing) I thought it was so easy, but then after that, I started playing like crap.
Did you take lessons?
I took a few lessons at Congressional, just to get my swing right. But I don't play enough to get a consistent swing. . . . I've got a long way to go.