It’s become a bit of a cliche in today’s football world that many footballers love golf, but you may not be aware of the number of golfers for whom the feeling is mutual. There are plenty of big name stars of the sport who love to cheer on their favourite teams when they’re not on tour competing in tournaments. Some of them have been fans of the game since before they picked up a golf club as a youngster, while others built those connections through meeting football players themselves, often as the subject of their admiration. Sometimes that respect can go both ways.
Here are 5 golfers and their favourite football teams:
Rory McIlroy (Manchester United)
One of the biggest names in the sport, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is a lifelong Man United fan. After winning The Open in 2014, he received the highest honour a fan could ask for when he presented the Claret Jug before thousands of fans at Old Trafford. He must have got a huge kick out of being there and having the opportunity to show off his silverware.
However, there are some in the United ranks who may not be best pleased with his comments before the 2018 Champions League final when he backed Liverpool to beat Real Madrid and win the UEFA Champions League. He told the Liverpool Echo that despite the need for Untied fans to always “hate Liverpool”, he thought it would be “great to see a British team win”.
Of course they didn’t, they lost 3-1, but he showed his ability to put partisan feelings aside for the greater good – something many more fanatical football supporters simply can’t do.
Ian Poulter (Arsenal)
Hertfordshire native Ian Poulter is an avid fan of Arsenal. The former number five in the world has made no secret of his allegiances. Poulter has proudly displayed the Gunners’ colours on numerous occasions.
One of the most memorable of these was when Poulter rather controversially wore an Arsenal top during one of his rounds at the Abu Dhabi Championship back in 2006.
He has since stopped decking himself out in football kits while on the fairway but the eagle eyed are often able to spot a small Arsenal badge on his shoes at tournaments.
Justin Rose (Chelsea)
South African born Englishman Justin Rose is a huge Chelsea fan. The golfer who once occupied the World Number One spot for 13 weeks back in 2018 has had the opportunity to get close to his favourite team on several occasions.
He was once invited to take part in a ceremonial appearance at Stamford Bridge, as well as participating in a golf chipping competition with some of the Chelsea players at their Cobham training ground, after being personally invited by then club captain and England and Chelsea legend John Terry.
It’s safe to say Justin Rose has enjoyed many a fine moment with Chelsea Football Club.
Sergio Garcia (Real Madrid)
From England to Spain, 42-year-old Spanish golf icon Sergio Garcia has won 27 titles across the PGA and European tours alone but that hasn’t dampened his ability to find time for his first love, football.
Garcia once got the chance to take the honorary kick-off for his favourite team Real Madrid, before they took on Barcelona in arguably one of the biggest matches of every football calendar, El Clasico.
Not only that but Garcia’s love for football extends beyond being a megafan of Los Blancos, he is also the Chairman for his local team Club de Futbol Borriol. The team competes in the Spanish Tercera, which despite its meaning in Spanish is actually the fifth tier of Spanish football.
He isn’t just a glory hunter but a genuine football obsessive.
Jon Rahm (Athletic Bilbao)
Staying in Spain, Basque native Joh Rahm grew up a fan of Athletic Club, also known as Athletic Bilbao, and his love for the club has never wavered. He attended many games as a youngster, sitting in the stands, but decided that he wanted to try his hand at the game himself.
He once told Yahoo Sport about his former desires to be a football goalkeeper: “I’ll never forget when I was 13, we played in a big tournament with other top teams. We were leading 32 in the final seconds, and there was a penalty kick, so I had to stop the shot.”
Rahm went on to elaborate, in that Yahoo interview, about the similarities between being a goalie and a golfer when he said: “Both teams were lined up watching, all the fans were yelling, and I stopped the ball and we won. I loved that feeling, of everyone counting on me. But it can be hard to get that in team sports. In golf, there is that internal pressure on every shot. I think that’s why I fell in love with the game.”
The Spaniard, who now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, spent 43 weeks as World Number One in 2020. It seems like he picked the right sport to pursue at college level and beyond after all.