There’s so much Gareth Bale can do at this year’s World Cup. He can dazzle. He can inspire. He can represent himself and his country. He can reaffirm his place among the best players in the world.
Turns out there’s only one thing he can not: to play golf.
According to multiple reports, Bale’s golf skills caught the eye of his World Cup teammates and coaching staff, both of whom pressured the ultra-talented striker to avoid the sports in Qatar. Just last week Wales manager Rob Page would have banned Ball to play on Doha’s only golf course in a bid to bring his attention back to football.
The problem, however, is that Bale is obsessed. He performs in pro-ams and celebrity outings whenever his schedule allows. Recently, he flashed a flag at the end of an international match that read: “Wales, Golf, Madrid… In that order.”
As the diehards among us know, golf is hard to quit. Even when you have better things to do, and even when those “best things” include “representing your country at the World Cup”.
So, at this year’s World Cup, even a ban wasn’t enough to keep Gareth Bale away from golf. On the contrary, according to a report by The daily expressBale found an ingenious workaround: instead of going to the golf course, he brought the golf course to him.
According to the report, Bale has had a golf simulator installed at the Wales team compound in Qatar, where he can be found most times when he is not on the pitch. His teammates have also tried their hand at the machine, but they admit there is only one real user.
“We’ve just been in the pool, playing table tennis, pool and golf,” forward Mark Harris said. “Team spirit is great anyway, but games like that help you. Gareth is very good at golf. I think most of us had a swing and we tried after practice because we had free time.
If Monday afternoon was any indication, Bale had no problem concentrating on the task at hand at the World Cup.
With the weight of his native Wales on his right foot, Bale took a penalty to tie things up with the United States in the 80th minute of Monday’s group stage opener, securing a potentially life-saving draw for his team and country. Bale’s target was 64, fulfilling the greatest moment in Welsh World Cup history since the country last entered the tournament in 1958.
It’s possible that Page will end Bale’s golf habit if the Welsh side qualify for the group stage. The stakes will then be higher, as will the quality of the opponent. Wales will need every ounce of willpower from Bale to continue.
But it’s also possible that Page has learned the same lesson as his adversaries for most of the past decade: it’s very difficult to stop Gareth Bale.