Golf: Newly retired football star Bale to play Pebble Beach event

Gareth Bale scored for Wales against the United States at the World Cup in November. He retired after the tournament ended. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON – Gareth Bale said on Monday he will play in golf’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am event in February, just weeks after the former Real Madrid and Wales star announced his retirement from football.

Bale, who hung up his boots earlier in January, will join a number of other celebrities at the famous Californian links course along with some of the world’s top golf professionals.

The 33-year-old wrote on Instagram: “Delighted to announce I will be playing in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at the start of next month! Let’s go.”

Former Tottenham Hotspur forward Bale won five Champions League titles and three La Liga crowns with Real but retained a passion for golf that once angered Los Blancos fans.

While on international duty with Wales, he posed with a banner that read, ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid. In That Order’.

Bale, who ended his club career with Los Angeles FC, played for Wales at last year’s World Cup in Qatar before deciding to retire.

Now he has time to turn his attention to his second sporting love.

There will be 156 amateurs participating at Pebble Beach from Feb 2 to 5 and the same number of professionals, including US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick and world No. 5 Patrick Cantlay.

Meanwhile, Ko Jin-young, the world’s top-ranked female golfer for most of last year, is aiming to open her season at the Honda LPGA Thailand in late February, Golfweek reported on Monday.

Ko missed the season-opening Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Florida, last week due to a wrist injury.

The 27-year-old South Korean owns 13 career LPGA victories, including two Majors, the 2019 ANA Inspiration and the 2019 Evian Championship.

Ko won five times in 2021, including the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, but then earned just one title in 2022, prevailing at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore last March.

Ko was still ranked No. 1 in the world until she missed the cut in three tournaments and withdrew from another during a four-tournament span from August to November. She tied for 33rd at the CME Group Tour Championship while battling the wrist ailment and ended the year ranked world No. 4.

According to Golfweek, Ko is currently in Vietnam training with instructor Lee Si-woo. She reportedly will defend her HSBC title in Singapore following the Thailand event. AFP, REUTERS

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