AFTER 21 months in the South Korean military, two-time PGA Tour winner Bae Sang-moon is taking his first steps back into civilian – and golfing – life.
The 31-year-old, winner of the HP Byron Nelson Championship in 2013 and the Frys.com Open the following year, is eager to get his golf career back on track.
Although he did not get to practice much during his 21 months as a rifleman in the army, Bae said his mandatory stint in the military made him “love golf even more”.
Bae, who once held a world ranking as high as 26, is now ranked 1,639th after the best part of two years inactive on the circuit.
He had attempted to defer his military service in order to continue his lucrative golfing career in the United States.
But after being charged with violating South Korea’s military service regulations – that all able-bodied men between 18 and 35 serve as a deterrent to North Korean aggression – he lost a legal battle to defer his service.
Bae has not competed since the President’s Cup in his homeland in 2015, but plans to return at next month’s US$1 million Shinhan Donghae Open, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Korean PGA.
— Korean Golf News (@KoreanGolfNews) August 16, 2017
“I did a lot of weightlifting and running to improve my conditioning, and I am not concerned about my fitness level at all,” he said in a statement after completing his military service.
“Even though I didn’t get to play much, I grew to love golf even more.
“I’ve had such great memories serving in the military and I feel that I’ve grown a lot stronger.”
The Shinhan Donghae Open gets underway on September 14, and Bae said: “From today and until the start of the tournament, I can’t afford to be doing anything else.
“I have a lot of work to do. I’ve been dying to play golf. I’ve been dreaming of the moment when I find myself in contention for a title.” – Reuters.