Bryan Altman, CBS Local Sports
In the wake of a week of headlines dominated by Jordan Spieth and his quest to keep his dream of completing golf’s grand slam alive comes the news that Sang-moon Bae, a South Korean born golfer who turned pro in 2004, will abide by a South Korean court’s order that the golfer return home and serve in his home country’s military.
In South Korea, there is a compulsory obligation that all men between the ages of 18-35 serve in the military for at least two years. Bae had previously received a work visa from the South Korean government that enabled him to play on the PGA Tour and push off his required service, but the visa expired at the end of 2014.
Bae has made the decision to return to South Korea and serve his time in the military. The golfer spoke with South Korea’s largest news agency, Yonhap, about the court’s decision, saying “I completely respect the court’s decision, and I humbly accept the judgment by the law.”
Bae also added “I am sorry to those who have supported me, including all my fans and South Koreans, for causing anxiety,”
On the PGA Tour, Bae had won two tournament since 2012, including the first tournament of the 2015 season, the Frys.com Open.
Bae is only the fourth South Korean ever to win a tournament on the PGA Tour besides Y.E. Yang, K.J. Choi and Kevin Na.
As the court ruling unfolded this year, Bae was reluctant to address the controversy but spoke to Golf Digest before the Players Championship in May.
“It’s a sensitive subject to me. Nothing’s changed right now, but I’m trying to find out. We’re taking legal action and we’ll find out in two months. That’s a really sensitive thing in Korea. Obviously we’re still at war, between the North and the South. And I know how all Korean guys have to serve. There’s no doubt about that. And me too some day. But I have a green card, as a permanent resident of the United States. So that’s why I believe I can extend it to stay in the U.S. for now. I’m 28 years old and I hope to extend it for some time. That’s my opinion. But the Korean government has denied it. I don’t know what it’s going to play out. Hopefully. I really want to keep playing.”