Si Woo Kim And SungJae Im Skip Open Championship To Prepare For Olympics

Si Woo Kim And SungJae Im Skip Open Championship To Prepare For Olympics

SungJae Im and Si Woo Kim
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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 (opens in new tab) starts, Kim's (opens in new tab) best finish is only a T67th, with his countryman, Im (opens in new tab), 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.

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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 (opens in new tab) 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.

SungJae Im and Si Woo Kim

Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min holds a best performance prize among all trainees during the completion ceremony at a Marine Corps boot camp in South Korea. (Photo by Republic of Korea Marine Corps via Getty Images)

Although he was still required to serve a shorter period, it was significantly less than the original mandatory commitment.

With Kim and Im withdrawing, they will be replaced by Argentina's Emiliano Grillo (opens in new tab) and American Keegan Bradley (opens in new tab).

The Open Championship gets underway at Royal St George's on the 15th July, with Ireland's Shane Lowry (opens in new tab) looking to defend his Claret Jug (opens in new tab).

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.