Besides the color of the flag, Kim Si-woo and Im Sung-jae also want to win the Tokyo 2020 medal to be exempted from military service in their homeland.

Under Korean law, all male citizens up to the age of 28 must complete their military service with a service period of 18 to 21 months, depending on the service. During the age of service, they are allowed to postpone performance for legal reasons, including studying and working abroad. As for sports, athletes are exempt from military service if they win an Olympic medal or an Asian gold medal.

However, golf in Asiad is only for high-achieving amateurs. And Kim and Im are full-time members on the PGA Tour. Kim has won three championships, one more than Im.

Kim (right) and Im (left) in the practice session to get used to the field on July 28.  Photo: Golf Digest

Kim (right) and Im (left) in the practice session to get used to the field on July 28. Photo: Golf Digest

Today, July 29, the two started looking for medals on the East Court, belonging to Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama district, about an hour’s drive from central Tokyo.

When winning the right to represent their country through their position in the world’s top 50 (OWGR table), Kim and Im both dropped out of major The Open in the UK two weeks ago to focus on the Olympic front.

“The Korean government will exempt us from military service if we win the medal this time. However, I don’t really pay attention to that. Personally, my only goal is to win the championship, get the medal back to the country and bring it back to the country. honored,” said Kim above Golf Channel. “I also only focus on the mission to win, not the matter of enlistment,” Im continued to his teammates.

Kim turned 26 in June, three years older than Im. Therefore, Tokyo 2020 is Kim’s last chance to find a national service exemption. For Im, after this period, he still has the opportunity to stay in Paris 2024.

At the major PGA Championship in May, world number one golfer Jon Rahm joked about his ability to help Im exempt himself from military service in the Olympics. “If I have to go to the bronze medal with him, I accept three putts to close the last hole for Im to win on the condition that he has to bribe. I like Korean food very much. I want to discuss this anytime”, Rahm joke.

However, the Spaniard, after a happy look, expressed concern for Im. “During his time in the army, even in the most leisurely unit, he could not practice golf. That was the biggest obstacle to his later career,” Rahm commented.

On July 25, Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau were unfortunately excluded from the 2020 Olympics due to being positive for nCoV in the final screening session of the three-phase testing process before leaving for Tokyo.

Bae Sang-moon is an example often cited when discussing the impact of military service on an individual golf career. Bae owns two PGA Tour titles, but had to put down the stick in 2015 to do military service with his homeland. After being discharged from the army, Bae still struggled to find his form. From being in the top 100 five years ago, he is now at number 958.

The PGA Tour recorded at least two Korean champions who were exempted from military service thanks to their Asian gold achievements, including KH Lee and Sung Kang.

Quoc Huy

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