Sang-Moon Bae won’t be vying for any wins on the PGA Tour for the next two years — but not by choice. It was decided by a South Korean court on Wednesday that Bae must return home and serve two years of military service by law.
“I am sorry to those who have supported me, including all my fans and South Koreans, for causing anxiety,” Bae told Yonhap news agency. “I completely respect the court’s decision, and I humbly accept the judgment by the law.”
Bae, 29, was granted residency in the United States in 2013 to pursue his PGA Tour career but was charged in February with violating South Korea’s military service laws, which requires two years of military services from all South Korean men ages 18-35.
The court ruled that Bae hasn’t spent enough time out of the country to be considered an overseas resident and must return to home to serve his time — something he says he will do very soon.
Bae has won twice on the PGA Tour, including the 2014-15 season-opening Frys.com Open. His other win came in 2013 at the HP Byron Nelson.
According to a report on Reuters, South Korean citizens typically don’t respond positively to celebrities and athletes who don’t serve their two years, as most still believe the law protects them from their unstable neighbors to the north, with whom the country is still technically at war with.
Ironically, this year’s Presidents Cup will take place in Bae’s home country. It appears Bae would’ve been a shoe-in for the International squad, but now, he’ll be watching instead of participating.
In May, before the PLAYERS Championship, Bae acknowledged that the knew he’d someday have to serve his time, but that he wanted to keep playing and continue his career in the United States.
Unfortunately for Bae, it doesn’t look like that career will continue until at least summer of 2017.