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AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: 7-foot Pau Gasol joins celebrity lineup

PEBBLE BEACH — Spaniard Pau Gasol, the 7-foot-1 former forward/center who played for five NBA teams before retiring in 2019, has joined the suddenly internationally-infused celebrity field of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Gasol, 42, who began playing golf during the pandemic, is the 30th golfer in the lineup of notables in the 14th PGA Tour event of the 2022-23 season.

Earlier this week, Gareth Bale, 33, of Great Britain, the just-retired soccer midfielder for Real Madrid and Tottenham, was added to the AT&T’s celebrity field.

Practice rounds begin Monday in the tournament held at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Golf Course and Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Course). The 72-hole professional championship begins Thursday.

Gasol, part of the Los Angeles Lakers’ consecutive championship teams in 2009 and 2010, averaged 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds in 18 NBA seasons. Gasol is believed to be the tallest entrant in AT&T history.

Last year, James Hart du Preez of South Africa joined Englishman Jon Thompson, both 6-9, as the tallest players to compete in a pro event. Du Preez made his PGA Tour debut at American Express Championship. Thomson became the tallest player to compete in a major championship at the 2021 British Open where he had a hole-in-one.

“Golf came into my life during the lockdown,” Gasol recently told the Spanish publication Golf Circus. “With all the restrictions on movement, golf was one of the few activities you could do.

“At a time when I was not competing, it was like an escape route on an emotional level. It was also a way to connect with nature a bit and it was a challenge to learn a new sport while the world was at a standstill due to the pandemic.”

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Gasol has played in other celebrity and charity golf tournaments. Last July, he was a guest on a YouTube channel broadcast hosted by Random Golf Club for nine holes at Half Moon Bay Golf Links. During the video, Gasol was cited as playing with a 16 handicap.

Last September, Gasol was named as an ambassador for the Solheim Cup, the biennial team competition between the top women pros from Europe and the United States. It will be held in Malaga, Spain in September.

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