The South Korean pair have decided to skip the Open Championship to prepare for the Olympic games in Tokyo.
Si Woo Kim And SungJae Im Skip Open Championship To Prepare For Olympics
With golf’s oldest Major on the horizon, the PGA Tour winners have decided to withdraw from the event and focus on claiming a potential gold medal.
In three Open Championship starts, Kim’s best finish is only a T67th, with his countryman, Im, never making a cut at the Major, but it’s not their poor records that are making them miss the event at Royal St George’s.
The actual reason is due to South Korea’s mandatory military service, which all able-bodied 18 to 28 year olds must complete.
With the service lasting anywhere from 18 to 24 months, it has affected South Korean golfers previously.
Both Seung-Yul Noh and Sangmoon Bae had to take time out of their Tour careers to do their military service, with Noh returning to competition in 2020, and Bae completing his service in 2018.
However, by winning an Olympic gold medal they can obtain exemption from national service. The rule, which came into affect in 1973, was designed to boost South Korea’s global prestige.
An example outside of golf was Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, who was excused the full 21-month military service after helping South Korea to victory in the 2018 Asian Games.
Although he was still required to serve a shorter period, it was significantly less than the original mandatory commitment.