Matt Fitzpatrick has plenty of admiration for the golf skills of recently retired soccer star Gareth Bale. He’s less appreciative of Bale’s accomplishments on the soccer field.
Fitzpatrick, the reigning U.S. Open champ and a fan of the soccer club Sheffield United in his native England, played a practice round with Bale leading up to this weekend’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
“First time I’ve officially met him,” Fitzpatrick said in a press conference. “So that was obviously good to see him. Really, really enjoyed it. Asking him questions about football, and he’s asking questions about golf and stuff. So we had a really enjoyable front nine and there’s not many better places to do it than around here.”
Bale, who retired from soccer following the 2022 World Cup, previously played for club team Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League. During his 146 appearances for the squad, he netted 42 goals — but it was a certain hat trick against Sheffield United that stands out to Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick shard a story about Bale punking him after not signing with a management company founded by the soccer star’s agent, Jonathan Barnett.
“We each have a running joke,” Fitzpatrick said. “The first time I kind of got to know him a little bit he was looking to sign my brother. So 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.’
“My team being Sheffield United. 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 watching the game and he scored all three and I was laughing. Obviously disappointed as well.”
After netting the hat trick, Bale didn’t exactly play nice and let Fitzpatrick forget about shunning his agent’s management company. Instead, the former soccer star sent a picture of himself with the ball he scored all three goals with.
“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. So, yeah, he’s a pretty impressive individual, to be fair. He’s achieved a lot in his game.”