PGA golfer forced to join military

Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports
Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

PGA golfer Sang-Moon Bae was set to tee off Thursday afternoon for the first-round of the Canadian Open.  But a court ruling Wednesday in South Korea will force the two-time winner off the PGA Tour and into a mandated two-year military service in his native country.

“I am sorry to those who have supported me, including all my fans and South Koreans, for causing anxiety,” Bae told the Yonhap news agency. “I completely respect the court’s decision, and I humbly accept the judgment by the law.”

South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 35 years must complete two years of military service.

A United States resident since 2013, Bae was charged in February with violating that rule by not securing an extension that permits overseas travel. On Wednesday, a court in Bae’s home city of Daegu sided with the Military Manpower Administration of South Korea.

The PGA Tour says Bae could be allowed to regain his exempt status upon fulfilling his service time.

“Amendments to the PGA Tour tournament regulations that include ‘mandatory obligation’ in all references currently listed as ‘major medical/family crisis’ were preliminarily approved by the PGA Tour policy board earlier this year and are on the schedule to be ratified at next week’s policy board meeting,” the tour said in a statement, according to the Golf Channel. “This provision in the tournament regulations would give the commissioner discretion to grant an eligibility extension for a ‘mandatory obligation’ including but not limited to military service or religious obligation, allowing the player to return to competition with the same eligibility as if he were under a major medical/family crisis extension.”

Bae has earned $5,683,241 playing golf.  He will be paid just $130 per month in the Army.

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