LONDON : Former Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale has made no secret of his passion for golf and his game has received a ringing endorsement from one of the world's best ahead of his debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California next month.
The 33-year-old Bale ended his glittering soccer career this month leading to speculation that the Welshman might try to become a professional golfer.
Spaniard Jon Rahm got a close up view of Bale's golf game when partnering him at the Pro-Am ahead of this week's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and was clearly impressed.
"I told Gareth you can't be so good at professional football and golf at the same time, that doesn't seem fair," Rahm, the 2021 U.S. Open champion said. "You can't be dedicated to one thing and have this much talent for golf."
Bale's love of golf often led to criticism while he was in Madrid, especially after once posing in front of a banner which read: 'Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order'.
World number three Rahm said there was not much advice he could offer Bale on his golf swing.
"He didn't ask for anything, nor should he be asking, he's already good enough," the 28-year-old said. "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 got two strokes in the Pro-Am, which I think is already wrong. He should be giving strokes back to the rest of the amateurs because he is a very, very good player."
Bale has constructed three iconic golf holes - the 17th at Sawgrass, the Postage Stamp at Royal Troon, and the 12th at Augusta - in the back garden of his Cardiff home.
Last year the five-time Champions League winner, a two-handicap golfer, became a global ambassador for the Royal and Ancient (R&A).