Former Real Madrid Champions League winner Gareth Bale sprang a surprise weeks after announcing his retirement from football by revealing that he would be making his debut on the PGA Tour.
Bale’s devotion to golf is well-known — he notably irritated Real Madrid fans in 2019 by posing with a flag that read ‘Wales, golf, Madrid — in that order’ after helping his country qualify for Euro 2020 — but few had expected him to immediately compete at such a high level.
As one of the most successful sportspeople in history, Bale’s unexpected move has already made headlines and will undoubtedly attract an increased and intrigued audience to see if his dedication to golf over the years will pay off.
Here’s when and where Bale is playing, where it leaves his footballing future and a look at what we already know about his golf skills.
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Gareth Bale PGA Tour: Which tournament is he playing in?
Wales’ most capped male player and record scorer is taking part in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am 2023.
The tournament was co-founded by another entertainer: American actor and singer Bing Crosby launched the event in 1937, and it was named after him until 1985, eight years after Crosby’s death.
The field starts with 156 professionals being paired in two-man teams with 156 amateurs, each playing one round across three courses.
US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick and last year’s runner-up, Jordan Spieth, are among the professionals taking part this time.
Only professionals can compete in the individual section of the competition, which has previously been won by players including Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and reigning champion Tom Hoge.
Gareth Bale golf tournament: When is the football star playing?
The tournament will be held between Thursday, February 2 and Sunday, February 5, with play beginning at 11:00 local and Canada time, 16:00 UK time and 03:00 the following day in Australia.
Bale has been partnered up with USA’s Joseph Bramlett who is ranked 217th in the world. They will get underway on Thursday, February 2 at 16:30 GMT / 11:30 ET.
“Delighted to announce I will be playing in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at the start of next month,” Bale told his millions of social media followers. “Let’s go.”
Where is the PGA Tour AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am?
The tournament originally took place in San Diego County and is now held at three courses in California.
Bale and his pro partner will need to make the cut of 54 to reach the final day on the Pebble Beach Golf Links, while the Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Monterey Peninsula Country Club will also be in use earlier on.
Did Gareth Bale retire from football?
Even though Bale is 33 and was not at his best as Wales were knocked out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the group stage, there was an unexpected abruptness to the national team captain announcing his immediate retirement in January 2023.
Bale had only left Madrid the previous June, having won the Champions League four times and La Liga once during his time with the club.
A brief spell at Los Angeles FC followed for the man who shone for Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League at the start of his career, winning the Player of the Season award in the English top flight shortly before moving to Madrid in 2013.
The attacker called his decision to quit football midway through his LAFC contract “by far the hardest of my career.”
“It has truly given me some of the best moments of my life,” he said. “The highest of highs over 17 seasons that will be impossible to replicate, no matter what the next chapter has in store for me.”
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Gareth Bale golf handicap: How good is the ex-Real Madrid player?
“For those of you asking, my golf handicap is 11,” Bale said on Twitter in 2012 – and he has clearly been working on the game he loves since then.
The creator of a golf bar in Bristol is widely reported to now have a handicap of two and has an expert admirer in world number three Jon Rahm.
“I told Gareth, ‘you can’t be so good at professional football and golf at the same time – it just doesn’t seem fair’,” said Rahm after playing with Bale at the Torrey Pinnes course in San Diego.
“Can’t be dedicated to one thing and have this much talent for golf. It’s not fair in the slightest.
“He didn’t ask for anything, nor should he be asking – he’s already good enough. He has no business being that good when he’s a professional football player.
“When he can actually practise more, he’s going to get a lot better. He should be giving strokes back to the rest of the amateurs because he is a very, very good player.”
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