“It’s a sport that I follow a lot, almost as much as football right now”. It seems unlikely, but it’s true, for some time now, Luis Figo has been, in his own words a complete golf “devotee”. The once brilliant Sporting Lisbon, Barça, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Portugal midfielder has swapped the turf of the world’s greatest stadiums for the grass on the tees and greens. Almost as adept as he was in his days as a global star in the beautiful game, he now has a handicap of 8.2 (and falling). The Portuguese was keen to try his luck at the Open de España, where he took part in the Pro-Am on Wednesday.
Figo played in a group with Eduardo de la Riva (professional since 2001), Rapael Andrieu and Gonzalo Vidal. Laughing, he said he was “bad but passionate”, just minutes before taking to the tee on the 10th hole of the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid. Some of his playing partners disagreed, declaring loudly that they didn’t want to lose “to the Portuguese” again.
It is clear that the ex-footballer has truly fallen for the game of golf. “I really enjoy being able to play with friends every week, whenever I can […] I put a lot of effort into it, but I know that it’s very difficult. Thank God I don’t have to make a living from golf”, he joked. He has people close to him that are well worth imitating; “Sergio García, Jon Rahm, Rafa Cabrera-Bello… I was with them recently. Then, I like Justin Rose, and Matthew Fitzpatrick (5 European Tour victories) is a good friend”.
“For all of us who play golf a lot, it is a pleasure to be able to see the best players in the world this week. I’m enjoying it”, declared Figo. As he lives in Madrid, he is already familiar with what he called the “excellent” venue for the Open de España, although “it’s been a while since I was last here”. “I hope that one of the Spaniards wins. Theoretically, those that are high in the ranking are the favourites, but you have to produce on the course, like in football”, ended the now-burgeoning golfer from Portugal.