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Gareth Bale hits his bunker shot on the first hole during the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Image Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Pebble Beach: Former Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale impressed on his PGA Tour debut on Thursday as he made a swift switch from his glittering football career into following his passion for golf.

Bale, who announced his retirement from football in January, made his golf debut at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California. The event runs from February 2-5 and sees a number of celebrity players compete alongside some of the world’s top golfers.

Recovery shot

The 33-year-old Bale and professional partner Joseph Bramlett closed with a seven-under-par 65 to end tied 18th on the amateur leaderboard at the Spyglass Hill course.

American Hank Lebioda shot an eight-under-par 63 to lead the pro leaderboard while Britain’s Harry Hall (64) is tied-second.

A highlight of Bale’s first round was a recovery shot off a path to save par on the second hole, the BBC reported.

165 amateurs taking part

“It was a great shot,” former Wales captain Bale said. “I tried to play it into the bank and hope for the best, as all amateur golfers would.

“It was nice to see it roll up nice and close. I finished it off nicely as well. I can’t really say much more.”

Bale, who became a global ambassador for the Royal and Ancient (R&A) in 2022, joined actor Bill Murray, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and rapper Mackelmore among the 156 amateurs taking part in the competition.