Spanish golf star Sergio Garcia believes Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale’s passion for the sport is ‘healthy’ and not a concern.
The Welshman has been widely criticised in parts of Spanish media for his golfing habit - and the player himself has admitted the sport is his one true habit.
Indeed, such is Bale’s links to the sport that he has been nicknamed ‘The Golfer’ by his Madrid teammates - another stick the Spanish media has used to him.
“To me, the fact that he likes golf, well it is much better then that he play 18 holes rather than go out drinking until 4 a.m,” Garcia told Gol TV, as cited by ESPN FC.
“It is a healthy sport and I love that he likes to play it and we are friends. so, you know, good for him.
“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 has been linked with an exit from Madrid for months with England and China rumoured to be two possible destinations.
It is claimed that the player’s entourage is pressing Madrid into facilitating his departure and requesting that they listen to offers from suitors, including from China.
A report Marca last week claimed Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua will attempt to sign the Welshman in January.
The same outlet add that the relationship between Bale and Zinedine Zidane is essentially non-existent and the two are drifting further apart.
The Welshman was close to a move to the Far East this summer before Los Blancos president Florentino Perez vetoed the deal late on, with Madrid not being entitled to a transfer fee.
A separate report in ESPN FC from last month claimed the situation with the player and the club is now irreversible and the player has his heart set on a departure from the Spanish capital.
Earlier in October, Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague spoke on the BBC and wrote in Spanish news outlet Diario AS that the Welshman is angry with the situation he finds himself in and is now ready to walk out of the club.
It has been outlined that Bale was mystified by sitting out the recent Champions League clash against Club Brugge with no explanation, as he was totally fit and injury-free for the clash.
The 30-year-old had appeared to be returning to full form and fitness in the opening weeks of the campaign but is now said to be unhappy with his treatment by boss Zinedine Zidane and the club generally.