By Jack Bantock, CNN
Just two weeks after retiring from football, Gareth Bale has confirmed he will be back competing with a ball at his feet next month — albeit a much smaller one.
The 33-year-old will compete as part of a 156-player celebrity field alongside a professional group of the same number at the event, which runs from January 30 to February 5.
World No. 4 Patrick Cantlay, three-time major winner Jordan Spieth and 2022 US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick are among the pro-golfers competing for the $9,000,000 professional purse, with Tom Hoge seeking to defend his 2022 title.
Bale will be one of the biggest names at a tournament renowned for featuring the most-famed celebrity golfers, with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, actor Jason Bateman and rapper Macklemore confirmed to feature.
Earlier this month, Bale called time on a stellar 16-year playing career that saw him become a Welsh national hero and one of the most decorated footballers in the modern game.
Having signed for Real Madrid for a then world-record transfer fee in 2013, Bale won five Champions Leagues and three La Liga titles during his time at the club, playing an integral role in much of that success.
Yet his glittering spell in the Spanish capital was soured by a strained relationship with local supporters and media. After helping Wales qualify for the European Championships in 2019, Bale faced a backlash from Real Madrid fans for celebrating with a flag that suggested he preferred representing his country and playing golf ahead of starring for Los Blancos.
“Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order,” the flag read, spurring calls from some Madrid fans for Bale to leave the club. Bale eventually left Madrid in the summer of 2022, joining Los Angeles FC and helping them to their first MLS Cup triumph in November.
Regularly documenting his love of golf on Instagram, Bale announced in December the opening of his second Par59 mini-golf bar in Bristol, England, adding to the first in his hometown of Cardiff.
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