Gareth Bale’s interest in golf is “healthy”, says Real Madrid fan Sergio Garcia, with criticism of the Wales international considered to be strange by the 2017 Masters winner.
A man who has enjoyed considerable success during his time in Spain has faced plenty of criticism over recent years regarding his commitment to the cause.
Detractors have branded Bale ‘The Golfer’ , with the 30-year-old accused of spending too much time and energy working on a game outside of his chosen profession.
The former Tottenham forward has laughed off some of the headlines he continues to generate and sees no reason to change his ways.
That is a stance supported by Ryder Cup legend Garcia, with one of the finest Spanish golfers of all time telling Gol TV : "As I said to some of my friends, I think it's much better that a golfer who likes golf goes and plays 18 holes rather than going out drinking until 4 a.m.
"It's healthy, it's sport and I'm thrilled that he likes it."
Garcia added of Bale: "We are friends.
"I've played a few times with him and the truth is that he likes it a lot. He does it very well. He is very good."
Bale was recently quizzed again on his interests outside of football and the attention his golf game attracts.
He said while away on international duty: “I find it hilarious to be honest, especially some of the pictures and stuff my friends send me.
“On one it said triple bogey - and I've never had a triple bogey! At least give me an albatross! It's funny.
“Some of the things I have seen, people don't understand and don't know what they're on about. So I just find it quite funny.”
While Bale can see the funny side, many in Madrid do not.
Real icon Predrag Mijatovic has suggested that the Blancos sit too far down the Welshman’s list of priorities, with a further example of that considered to be the fact that he has reported for Euro 2020 qualifying duty despite missing regular game time at club level with niggling knocks.
Mijatovic said recently: “I think Gareth Bale is a very particular kind of person
“I don't know him personally, but from what I've read of the comments he has made, he seems quite a particular type, which might mean he comes across as being a bit strange.
“But to have someone like that at the club, who they say isn't integrated and has other, more important worries than his own team and his club... the first thing he thinks about is Wales, then golf and after that, Real Madrid. I haven't spoken to him but that's how he comes across.”