Maria Verchenova Photos

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From Russia With Golf

Sharmila Nicollet of India and Maria Verchenova of Russia for a picture at the gala dinner after the third round of the Evian Masters at the Evian Masters golf club on July 23, 2011
Maria Verchenova (right) with Sharmila Nicollet at the Evian Masters in 2011. Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Maria Verchenova (sometimes known as Maria Balikoeva after marriage) has the distinction of being the first Russian female to play on any of the major women's tours, in Verchenova's case the Ladies European Tour. She achieved that claim to fame as an LET rookie in 2007.

Verchenova also does some modeling, combining golf and modeling in much the way that Anna Rawson has. More details about Verchenova are included inside the gallery, so click away.

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Maria Verchenova
Maria Verchenova is shown in this candid image taken during the 2008 Dubai Ladies Masters, played on the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club. David Cannon / Getty Images

Maria Verchenova was born in Moscow in 1986. During her youth, there was only one golf course in all of Russia, the Moscow City Golf Club.

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Lady In Red

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This image of golfer Maria Verchenova was taken during the third round of the Dubai Ladies Masters in 2008. David Cannon / Getty Images

Most Russian youth were interested in tennis, but Maria Verchenova developed an interest in golf when she was 12. She had to go outside Russia, however, for that interest to bloom.

"My dad took me to the Czech Republic when I was 12 and we went for a coffee at a golf club," Verchenova told the Times of London in 2008. "The next day we went back and I tried hitting a few balls with a local coach. He said I had a talent for the game and I should play. When I got back we went to Moscow City Golf Club and that's how I started."

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Evian Masters

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Maria Verchanova is pictured during the first round of play at the 2009 Evian Masters tournament in France. Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

Maria Verchenova worked on her game in her teens and started playing in amateur tournaments around Europe. Only a handful of other Russian golfers were playing amateur tournaments, too.

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Hold That Pose

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Maria Verchenova of Russia poses for a picture on the par-3 course at the Royal Hotel in Evian-les-Bains, France, following the third round of the 2009 Evian Masters. Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

Maria Verchenova also attended the Moscow State University of Sport, working on her golf. She won the Russian Amateur Championship in 2004 for her first major accomplishment in the game.

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Maria Verchenova
Russian golfer Maria Verchenova photographed during the third round of the 2009 Evian Masters. Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

Maria Verchenova won several other national amateur tournaments, too: The Latvian Amateur Championship in 2005, the Slovenian Amateur Championship in 2005, and the Russian Amateur Championship again in 2006. She was also runner-up at the 2006 World University Championships.

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In the Swing

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Maria Verchenova at the top of her backswing, transitioning into the downswing, during the 2009 Evian Masters. Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

Maria Verchenova turned professional in December, 2006, when she played in the Ladies European Tour qualifying tournament.

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Maria Verchenova
Maria Verchenova waits to play a stroke during the second round of the 2009 Evian Masters. Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

After successfully navigating LET Q-School in December, 2006, Verchenova's rookie season as an LET member was 2007. While other Russian golfers had played collegiately in the United States or on feeder professional tours and mini-tours, Verchenova was the first to play on a major pro tour.

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Going for It

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Maria Verchenova takes a swing on the fifth hole of the second round of the 2009 Evian Masters. Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

Maria Verchenova got into her first major championship when she qualified for the 2008 Women's British Open. She also played her way into another LPGA Tour event, the 2009 Evian Women's Open.

Since then, she's played mostly on the Ladies European Tour while continuing to model. In 2016 she represented Russia in the Olympic golf tournament and, in the final round, established a new Olympic scoring record of 62.