Retired soccer star Gareth Bale is making the rounds on the celebrity golf circuit of late.
A week ago, the former Tottenham and Real Madrid star played with 2021 U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm in the pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open. This week, he’s competing in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am alongside partner Joseph Bramlett. But on Wednesday, Bale, a Wales native, played a nine-hole practice round with England’s Matt Fitzpatrick, the reigning U.S. Open champion.
Bale, who has a handicap of two and a replica of Augusta’s 12th hole in his backyard, has impressed the last two U.S. Open champs.
“I told Gareth, you can’t be so good at professional football and golf at the same time, it just doesn’t seem fair!” Rahm said.
— Matt Fitzpatrick (@MattFitz94) February 1, 2023
Fitzpatrick, who is a longtime Sheffield United fan, said they traded questions on their various sports.
“We had a really enjoyable front nine and there’s not many better places to do it than around here,” Fitzpatrick said.
He also shared a stellar story about a running joke between the two athletes. Fitzpatrick noted that Stellar Group, the company founded and run by Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett, was attempting to sign Fitzpatrick’s brother, Matt, a Walker Cupper and college star at Wake Forest University who turned pro last summer.
Multi-sport athlete ⚽️
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 2, 2023
“I ended up having a conversation with him and his manager and he jokingly said to me, ‘If you sign for my management company I’ll not score three goals against your team,’” Fitzpatrick recalled. “Obviously I didn’t sign. I’m happy with where I’m at. He decided to score three goals against my team. Just by pure, obviously, pure chance. And I just remember being, watching the game and he scored all three and I was laughing. Obviously disappointed as well.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, Bale made sure Fitzpatrick knew that he hadn’t forgotten his promise to score a hat trick.
“I got sent a picture. Normally, in football, after the game is done, if a player scores a hat trick, all the players in the team sign the ball. And I just got this picture of a signed ball from him,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s a pretty impressive individual, to be fair. He’s achieved a lot in his game.”