The 32-year-old Korean won on the Tour for his first victory since returning from a 21-month mandatory military service


Sangmoon Bae Wins First Title Since Military Service

After two years of military service, South Korea’s Sangmoon Bae is back in the winner’s circle and back on the PGA Tour.

Bae won the Albertsons Boise Open, a Tour Finals event, to regain his PGA Tour playing rights thanks to a birdie on the 72nd hole.

Coming down the last tied for the lead with three others, the South Korean struck a perfect sand wedge to six feet and holed the putt for victory.

The closing birdie meant he signed for a 66 (-5) to reach -19 and win by one after co-leading after 54 holes.

“I talked to my caddie Matt and we needed a birdie on the last,” he said after victory.

“I had a perfect number for my second with 110 yards to the hole and I perfectly hit a 56-degree wedge. (I feel) just so successful this week, and after the military service it means a lot. I feel like I’m back.

“I thought it would not take that long (to get my game back), but I have struggled for almost a year.

“My game is not that much different, but maybe a little (different) mentally. (This year), it’s a little different in my mind because I feel like I’m back to being a rookie. (I’m) more humbled and more patient.”

Bae is a serial winner with two PGA Tour titles, three Japan Tour titles and three Asian Tour titles. He has nine wins on the Korean Tour and also won the 2011 Japan Tour Order of Merit.

The 32-year-old reached a career-high of 26th in the world in 2011 but had fallen as low as 1938th in February this year. His latest victory propelled him up from 849th to 331st.

Now with a PGA Tour card, some solid finishes and perhaps even a few top 10s and top fives in the upcoming season may get him back closer to the world’s top 50, and we may well see him in majors and WGCs once again.

Bae returned last September with full PGA Tour playing rights but missed 12 cuts on Tour this season and finished outside of the top 200 in the FedEx Cup, hence why he headed to the Finals to regain his card.

Watch Bae’s winning birdie:

All able-bodied South Koreans aged 18-31 must complete military service in their home country. Bae was serving as a rifleman.

He won the 2013 Byron Nelson Championship before wrapping up his second PGA Tour title a year later at the Open.

He won just shy of $2.6m in 2015 and played in the Presidents Cup in his home country before his military service began in November.

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