Gareth Bale (34), a former member of the Wales national football team, is said to use his hands more than his feet these days. He retired from football in January and is focusing on golf. Bale took the spotlight by participating in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am of the PGA Tour, which ended on February 6. This tournament is a stage where 156 professional golfers and 156 amateur celebrities compete in pairs. Amateur contestants and partner professional players paired up to play each other, and the better score was determined as a team performance.
Bale, who drew the most attention even before the opening, finished the tournament tied for 16th in the amateur category with a final total of 16 under par 199 strokes on the final day of the tournament held at Pebble Beach Golf Links (par 72) in Monterey, California, USA. Bale, who partnered with PGA Tour player Joseph Bramlitt (USA), scored 65 in the first and second rounds in a row, then scored 69 in the third round. Bramlitt recorded 9 under par on three days in the pro division.
Bale in the Spotlight at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmAfter the game, Bale said, “I received a lot of praise, but the pressure was great.” He also said, “Although we (soccer players) are used to playing in front of 80,000 people or more while being broadcast live on TV, (golf) is a completely different sport.” His nervousness made him regret that he had not been able to properly demonstrate his skills. Bale’s golf skills, reaching a handicap of 2, have not been veiled. Rather, he received harsh criticism from public opinion for his blatant love of the field.
Bale is a top-notch striker who moved to Real Madrid in 2013 for a transfer fee of 100 million euros (approximately 135 billion won). He scored 81 goals and 46 assists in 176 appearances over eight seasons. He led the team to the top of the Champions League five times. He has played 111 matches for the Welsh national football team since 2006 and scored 41 goals, holding both the most appearances and the most goals scored in the national team’s A match. In November of last year, he also participated in the World Cup in Qatar.
At Real Madrid, his nickname was ‘The Golfer’. This is because he is obsessed with golf regardless of time and place. Even while he was out with an injury, he played golf and earned criticism. Bale was controversial when he raised a flag reading ‘Wales, Golf, Madrid, in this order’ during his Welsh national team match. In terms of his own priorities, he has openly revealed that his golf is ahead of his club Madrid.
In the backyard of the home in Cardiff, Wales, where Bale lives, there are three par 3-hole courses that seem to have moved the world’s most prestigious golf courses. The 12th hole of Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia, USA, where the Masters are held, and the 17th hole of Sawgrass TPC, USA, where the signature island green of The Flairs Championship, which is called the ‘fifth major’, is the venue for The Open, a major tournament. It is known as the 8th hole of Royal Troon, Scotland, which is one of the middle ones.
It happened last year when Bale joined Los Angeles FC in the American Professional Football League (MLS). There were 19 golf courses around his LA home field, so there was a joke that he chose that team. His passion for golf was as hot as that.
Yon Lam (Spain), third in the men’s golf world rankings, who won two wins on the PGA Tour in January alone, said after a practice round with Bale, “I had absolutely nothing to advise on the golf swing. It seems unfair to him to be good at both football and golf.”
Like this, unfair sports stars who boast pro-level skills in golf besides their main job are buying the envy of many.
NFL ex-Rogers wins Pebble Beach Pro-Am amateur division
Aaron Rodgers (USA, 40), a former American professional football (NFL) star who won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am amateur division championship, which Bale achieved disappointing results, is also the owner of outstanding golf skills. Rogers, a former Green Bay Packers quarterback, paired up with PGA Tour pro player Ben Silverman (Canada) and took first place with a total of 26 under par and 189 strokes in the third round. He defeated former FedEx CEO Don Collerang, who competed with Peter Mulnatty (USA), by one stroke. Rogers, who was selected as the MVP four times while playing in the NFL, smiled broadly after winning the championship, saying, “It was a goal I really wanted to achieve in my life.”
Rogers, known for his handicap of 4.5, teamed up with superpowered long hitter Bryson DeChambeau (USA) in 2021 to win the golf matchup against left-hander Phil Mickelson (USA) and NFL top star Tom Brady (USA) in ‘The Match’. have ever been 188 cm. Rogers, who weighs 102 kg, hit a driver tee shot 438 yards in an event held at an altitude of 2,200m above sea level in Montana, USA.
NBA shooter Stephen Curry (USA) is a scratch golfer with a zero handicap. In high school, he made a name for himself as a golf player as well as basketball, and in 2017 and 2018, he jumped into the PGA 2nd Division Web.com Tour and recorded 71 strokes. ‘Basketball Emperor’ Mike Jordan, who led the NBA Chicago Bulls to six championships, has a handicap of 1.9.
Pitcher John Smoltz (USA, 56), who won a total of 213 victories in the major leagues of American professional baseball, is also known as a golf expert. His handicap was reported to be 0.2. Smoltz also achieved outstanding results in golf, winning the celebrity category by participating in an LPGA tour event. ‘Golf emperor’ Tiger Woods (USA) also picked Smoltz as a player in another sport that is likely to succeed as a golf player.
It is evaluated that shooters in basketball and pitchers in baseball play golf better than players in other positions. Shooters and pitchers have excellent hands and have an advantage in short games and putting. Shooters are relatively taller than forwards and centers, making it easier to hit or handle the club. Some hitters have a hard time playing golf because their batting swing is hardened.
Tony Romo (USA, 43), former quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, is a talented player who has been invited to the PGA Tour regular tournaments four times. In the most recent 2019 Safeway Open, he caused a sensation by hitting a 2 under par 70 in the first round, but collapsed with a 6 over par 78 in the second round and was eliminated from the cut. After retiring from football in 2017, he also applied for the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School, the second division of the PGA Tour.
In Korea, Yoon Seok-min (37), a former professional baseball pitcher, is knocking on the door of a professional golfer. Yoon Seok-min, who won 4 KBO league pitching crowns in 2011, won a baseball gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With 77 wins in his career, he is looking for a ‘second life’ at the golf course after retiring in 2009. Yoon Seok-min, whose best score is 3 under fine, has been participating in the second part of the Srixon Tour and professional selection for three consecutive years from 2020, but has not yet received a pass. In 2022, he passed the KPGA Pro Qualifier Qualifier, but failed to qualify as a pro with a tie for 45th in the final round.
Yoon Seok-min, who even signed a contract with TaylorMade, said, “I really like golf and I want to enjoy it more, so I am challenging myself to become a professional golfer.” He added, “I couldn’t train abroad due to my personal schedule, but when the weather in Korea improves, I plan to boost his performance in earnest.”
Park Chan-ho (50), a legend of Korean baseball, “Korean Express” also has golf beyond the level of a hobby. Park Chan-ho, who has won 124 major league wins, said, “The field that helped me overcome the gloomy time after retiring as a baseball player was golf. He wants to challenge his limits again and wants to become a professional golfer. He said, “I feel like throwing at the bottom of the ninth.”
Park Chan-ho “It’s very lovely and nice, but it’s not like my heart”Park Chan-ho, who has a long hit exceeding 300 yards, has been invited to Korean Tour tournaments after receiving a handicap certificate of 3 or less from the Korea Golf Association. 안전놀이터
He competed 5 times, but was repeatedly eliminated from the preliminaries, realizing the high wall. At the 2022 Korean Tour Woori Finance Championship, he suffered the humiliation of staying at the bottom by recording 33 over par 177 for two days. Park Chan-ho, who turned 50 in 2023, may make his debut on the KPGA Champions Tour, where only those over 50 are allowed to participate. Park Chan-ho, who has three daughters, compared his golf to his third daughter. “It’s very lovely and nice, but it doesn’t feel like it.”
Bang Geuk-cheon (54), who was the first designated pitcher in the professional baseball league in 1992, worked as a baseball player for five years (starting in two games) before turning to golfer and making his official debut on the Korean Tour in 2001. According to KPGA, Bang Geuk-cheon is the only case in which a player from another sport became a member of the Korean Tour.
He also said that the fatal attraction of golf is that things don’t go your way. Even if he wants to beat them all, golf is when he gets back to grips with a good shot. It is so addictive. That’s why sports stars’ full-time golf careers are even more interesting.