Gareth Bale admits he’s a little nervous about playing Rory McIlroy in the BMW PGA Celebrity Pro-Am!
What are the talking points from the Celebrity Pro-Am at the BMW PGA Championship? Sky Sports’ Jamie Weir and Ali Stafford look at Wednesday’s eventful day at Wentworth, featuring Rory McIlroy, Gareth Bale… and Spider-Man.
The Ryder Cup on my mind is at Wentworth
Jimmy Weir: The BMW PGA Championship is obviously a big week in itself, but it’s hard not to keep an eye on the action in Rome over the course of two weeks.
All 12 members of the European Ryder Cup squad are in the field this week at Wentworth, along with Luke Donald and four of his vice-captains, all fresh off a group trip to Rome on Monday.
Team Europe captain Luke Donald explains his Ryder Cup picks and how he plans to reclaim the famous trophy.
After speaking to most of the team, they all found the trip very rewarding and, in Rory McIlroy’s words, wondered why they hadn’t done it before. Not only did they get to play the Marco Simone course, but in the evening they were able to enjoy each other’s company and sat regulating each other with stories of past Ryder Cups experiences.
Jon Rahm told me it was really moving to see some of the biggest names in golf vulnerable and putting themselves out there in front of the rest of the team. The youngsters emerging on the team will certainly get a lot of that.
Big names generate huge crowds
Ali Stafford: You might assume that a midweek sporting event during term time could limit the number of people attending, although the traditional curtain raiser before the tournament has once again proven very popular.
The first stand was packed when play began at 8am on Wednesday, with thousands of fans enjoying getting up close and personal with some of the biggest names in golf and their star-studded playing partners.
Crowds lined the fairways around several of the iconic holes across the West Course, while fans took advantage of the food, drink and range of activities available at the BMW PGA Championship Fan Village.
Wentworth will host a world premiere TV production event as the 2023 BMW PGA Championship will be “fully powered by green hydrogen”, resulting in zero carbon emissions.
Fans of all ages were present in the crowd, with sports stars and the entertainment industry encouraging many young people to take a day off from school to try golf in person. Attendance will increase during the four tournament days only.
Bale gets applause from McIlroy
Ali Stafford: Former Tottenham and Real Madrid star Gareth Bale was in the group off the first tee for this morning’s start, where he impressed with partner McIlroy.
“I enjoyed playing with him,” McIlroy said. “He hit it really well. He’s got a really good shot. A few little bits he needs to tidy up around the green.”
“We’re members of the same club, so I’ll be playing a bit of golf with him next week. It’s probably a low number to scratch for a golfer, but there’s definitely room for improvement as well.”
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September 14, 2023, 8:30 am
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Bale played in front of large crowds for club and country during his glittering career, although he admits playing in front of golf fans presents a different kind of pressure.
“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Bell said. Sky Sports About his opening shot. “Obviously he was just trying to impress him!”
Bale is enjoying Tottenham’s progress under Ange
Jimmy Ware: Every now and then you get reminders about how random your job is, as the day of the BMW PGA Pro-Am Championship should be as random as they come!
All of Europe’s Ryder Cup stars compete in the BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event on the DP World Tour calendar, with extended coverage live on Sky Sports Golf.
I spent some time walking and talking with Bale, who is a huge Spurs fan and even bigger since his retirement. He, like many Tottenham fans, loves Ange Postecoglou and the style of football he has brought to Tottenham.
I spoke to him about how quickly James Maddison has adapted, the importance of Christian Romero and Micky van de Ven staying fit throughout the season, the incredible transformation in Yves Bissouma since last season, and overall Postecoglou’s style of football.
He watches pretty much every Spurs game and loved playing under Ange, but is looking forward to Spurs playing again after four years of playing very poor football under Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.
He is a big fan of Brennan Johnson, another young Welsh winger now wearing Spurs colors who will hopefully follow in Bale’s illustrious footsteps.
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September 14, 2023, 12:00 noon
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Fans marvel at the superhero action
Ali Stafford: It’s not often that Masters champion Jon Rahm isn’t the main name in a prominent group, but the huge crowds gathered at the start were largely more interested in the trio of brothers who make up the rest of his four balls.
Phone cameras went out in full force to try and snap a photo of actor Tom Holland before morning playtime, with the Spider-Man star – wearing matching trousers – joining brothers Sam and Harry.
The Hollywood star enjoyed a selfie with a fan wearing a Spider-Man mask, posed for photos with as many spectators as he could around the practice green, and took autograph requests as he made his way through the rows of spectators onto the practice field. First tee.
“All we want to do is beat the team at the top,” was Holland’s message to fans in his opening campaign, which he joked would go well before his expectations quickly came true!
Holland launched a huge ‘front right’! As the ball was sprayed at spectators from beneath the trees, though he clenched his fists in celebration and was visibly happy to see his brother Sam hit one down the middle of the fairway.
Ram a future Spider-Man?!
Jimmy Weir: I walked into the 17th at Wentworth with Tom Holland, a senior Spurs player who – like Bale – loves Big Ange and is incredibly excited about Spurs’ start to the season. He was also very impressed with Ram, his playing partner for the day.
He said it was incredible to watch him hit a golf ball, at which point I suggested that he might be great at golf but would never be a great Spider-Man. Tom disagreed and said that Ram in lycra would be a great sight!
Watch the BMW PGA Championship all week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday with highlights from 8.30am before full coverage from midday on Sky Sports Golf.
Live coverage of the opening day of the Ryder Cup begins on Friday 29 September from 6am on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the PGA Tour, DP Tour, Ryder Cup and more now.