10 football stars who fancy themselves as pro golfers ahead of 2021 Ryder Cup

The football season is now in full swing, but while most players’ focus will be on events on the pitch, plenty will be tuning in over the coming days to watch the Ryder Cup.

Golf’s biggest team event takes place in Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, this weekend as Europe look to hold onto the trophy they won in Paris three years ago.

Europe won 17½-10½ at Le Golf National in 2018 and are aiming for an eighth victory in 10 meetings against the United States, who have home advantage and a formidable side.

Golf and football have been closely connected for many years. Many players spend their time on the course.

While the pastime has been losing popularity in modern football due to increased emphasis on sport science and a younger generation more interested in gaming than it used to be, there are still many passionate golfers among professional footballers.

Star Sport looks at the professional golfers who are currently playing in the Ryder Cup.

Gareth Bale

10 football stars who fancy themselves as pro golfers ahead of 2021 Ryder Cup
Gareth Bale has received plenty of stick for his interest in golf

Think of footballers who play golf and the first name that will string to mind is Bale, whose obsession with the sport has become legendary.

His difficult time at Real Madrid over the past few years led to accusations that the Welshman cared more about spending time on the golf course than training for his side – and spawned the infamous line, “Wales, golf, Madrid”, as his supposed list of priorities.

Bale even owns his own golf course that features replicas famous holes from Augusta National and Royal Troon.

He plays off an impressive handicap of three of four, as he revealed while playing Erik Anders Lang in March 2020.

“Football is my No.1 sport,” he said in 2019. “I’m paid to do it and I always give my best. Golf is a hobby like anyone else would have a hobby.”

Theo Walcott

Now 32 and plying his trade back at Southampton, Walcott is part of the older generation of players who were brought up playing golf alongside football.

The winger has a handicap of 10 back in 2018, according to Golf Monthly, and has been playing throughout his career with Saints, Arsenal and Everton.

The height of Walcott’s golf days came in 2013 when he played at Wentworth alongside Justin Rose in the pro-am for the BMW PGA Championship.

James Milner

10 football stars who fancy themselves as pro golfers ahead of 2021 Ryder Cup
James Milner is a decent golfer

Milner is a multi-talented man. He completed 11 GCSEs in school and was a Yorkshire Schools cricket champion.

The Liverpool midfielder is also a decent golfer, playing off a single-figure handicap, sometimes alongside current world No 19 Tyrrell Hatton, according to The Athletic.

“You need something outside of football,” he told BBC Sport earlier this year.

“Obviously the intensity and the pressure is pretty much non-stop, so to be able to get away from it for a few hours and play some holes is good.”

Harry Kane

The Tottenham striker is a very keen golfer and, alongside Bale, is one of the best around in football circles, playing off a handicap of four, sometimes with Spurs team-mates Eric Dier and Ben Davies.

“Gaz is also very good and hits it an absolute mile,” England international Kyle Walker told Today’s Golfer in 2018.

“Though Harry’s short game was a little bit better than Gareth’s – though that might have changed since he (Bale) had his own course built in his back garden!”

Kane often posts pictures of him playing golf on his social media and is often at Centurion Club in Hemel Hempstead.

Carlos Tevez

10 football stars who fancy themselves as pro golfers ahead of 2021 Ryder Cup
Carlos Tevez is a keen golfer

Like his Argentina compatriot, Sergio Aguero, Tevez is a keen golfer and often played alongside his team-mates while at Manchester United and Manchester City.

Tevez, who plays at a 13 handicap, caddied for Andres Romero during practice for the Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes 2012.

He celebrated goals by swinging a golf club and revealed in 2018 that he preferred the sport to football.

“I never watch football. I don’t like it,” he told Clarin magazine.

“I will switch channels to golf when Barcelona-Real Madrid is playing. I was never a football fanatic.”

Kyle Walker

Walker is part of the old guard in the England side who still play golf when they get the chance on international duty.

The Manchester City defender said in a 2018 interview that he hits the ball a long way off the tee – “around the 320-330 yard mark” – but his opportunities to play are limited by his profession.

“Nowadays, I only play golf in the summer,” He stated. “Obviously football comes first and I tend not to play two days before a game just in case it takes it out of my legs or anything.

“It’s all about finding the right time, but luckily we’re in this position now where we’ve won the league plus the gaffer (manager Pep Guardiola) is very big into his golf so I had a few end-of-season days off for a swing.”

John Stones

10 football stars who fancy themselves as pro golfers ahead of 2021 Ryder Cup
John Stones is one of several England players who enjoys golf

10 football stars who fancy themselves as pro golfers ahead of 2021 Ryder Cup

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Stones got into golf as a teenager in Barnsley’s academy and plays with Man City team-mate Walker and former Everton defender Phil Jagielka

“I’m up and down,” he told Today’s Golfer.

“I can play some brilliant shots, but in the same round I can strike some really wayward ones and, as a result, a decent score gets away from me.

“For me, the problem is more about consistency and concentration.”

Stones was even dressed up as a rabbit to attend a Man City-sponsored golf day to celebrate their 2019/20 Premier League title victory.

Jordan Pickford

The Everton and England goalkeeper is amongst the group of Three Lions players who still plays golf at The Grove or The JCB courses, which are near to training base St George’s Park, when they get the chance.

Pickford picked Tiger Woods out as his favourite player and told Sky Sports in 2018 that he has a 15 handicap on a “good day”.

Given the chance to show his stuff in the broadcaster’s 99-yard challenge, he finished bottom of the leaderboard with 85 yards at Carnoustie.

It’s safe to say a career switch doesn’t look likely for the keeper.

Adam Lallana

10 football stars who fancy themselves as pro golfers ahead of 2021 Ryder Cup
Adam Lallana played alongside Eddie Hearn in a Pro-Am event at Wentworth this month

Lallana is particularly interested in golf, having set up a management company in the sport alongside his former Liverpool team-mate Milner.

White Rose Sports Management Limited already has signed up young talents such as Ben Schmidt, and Lallana is becoming more interested in the sport.

The 33-year-old midfielder is currently playing off a handicap of 18, but he’s working on it.

“But I’d like to think I’m a couple of shots better than that,” In June, he spoke to BBC Sport.

“I’ve got a lot more time on my hands at Brighton than I probably did at Liverpool for a couple of reasons – less games and the times of day that we train.

“So I often have time to go to the range in the afternoon or play a couple of rounds in the week.”

James Ward-Prowse

Like Tevez, the Southampton captain has been known to celebrate goals by reenacting a golf swing in front of the fans.

It was Oscar’s idea to celebrate his father’s love of golf, which Ward-Prowse revealed earlier in the year.

Ward-Prowse played on the south-coast with his team-mates Alex McCarthy, Stuart Armstrong and Danny Ings. Ings was also a frequent player before his summer move to Aston Villa.

“It’s not too bad,” he told the Daily Echo in October 2020.

“But I’m a big golf fan, I want to try and play as much as I can but equally keep focusing on the football and make sure that’s my priority.”

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