Bale: Tiger Woods is the greatest of all-time
Real Madrid star Gareth Bale hailed 14-time major champion Tiger Woods as the greatest golfer of all-time.
American veteran Woods opened his Players Championship campaign with an even par at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday - six shots adrift of a crammed leaderboard which includes world number one Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Alex Noren, Chesson Hadley, Matt Kuchar and Patrick Cantlay.
Woods is back challenging on the PGA Tour after a fourth back surgery, recording top-five finishes at both the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, while he was 32nd at the Masters.
Wales international Bale, a self-professed golf fanatic, particularly praised Woods' return to the sport.
"He's obviously the best player that's ever played the game," Bale said, speaking ahead of The Players Championship.
"He's taken the game to new levels and the type of golf he played and is starting to play now is amazing. It's exciting to see him back and we all hope he wins another tournament and another major.
"If I had one round with a PGA Tour golfer, it would probably be Tiger Woods. He's Tiger Woods, he's the biggest name in golf and what he's achieved, for me he's the best golfer to ever play the game. Some of the stuff I used to watch and what he's doing again now is incredible.
"We all hope he wins another tournament and plenty more majors. He'd be amazing to play with."
Woods is a two-time winner of The Players Championship, having won the tournament in 2013 and 2001.
"It'd be amazing to see Tiger lift the trophy again," said Bale, who is preparing for the Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev on May 26. "He has a big chance, but for me, I would obviously like to see Dustin Johnson win, being my favourite player."
On Johnson, Bale added: "I really love watching Dustin Johnson play. I've admired him for quite a while now and I just enjoy the way he plays golf. He attacks the golf course, he's very powerful off the tee."