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15th May 2017

Golf set to lose one of its hottest young stars for an entirely noble reason

Just after he had made a name for himself

Darragh Culhane

Si Woo Kim may have won one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments on Sunday but he might be taken away from us just as he announced himself to the world.

After holding off Ian Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen to be crowned victorious at TPC Sawgrass, Si Woo Kim became just the fourth player under the age of 22 to win on the PGA Tour.

Taking home a nice $1,890,000 for his spectacular performance, Kim also climbed up to a career high 28th in the world rankings to announce himself as one of golf’s most promising young talents.

Kim is the youngest ever to win the tournament, surpassing Adam Scott who won the tournament at the youthful age of 23 when he finished ahead of Padraig Harrington in 2004.

Yet, we might not get to see him for another two years.

Hailing from South Korea, Kim is expected to serve a minimum of 21 months for the country’s military. Speaking after his maiden tour victory, the 21-year-old has resigned himself to serving his country.

“Regardless of me winning this tournament, I really have to go to the military service, and I’ve already decided that I’m going to go, too. So I’m ready for that.”

The country does hold exemptions for athletes but Kim, unfortunately, will not fall under the terms needed to avoid military service.

Winners of a gold medal at either the Olympic or Asian Games means that an athlete does not have to serve in the military for their country but PGA Tour wins are not enough.

21-year-old Kim will have to go back to South Korea by the time he’s 30 to serve his time in the military so it remains to be seen at what point he will drop the clubs to return home.

Fellow South Korean golfer Bae Sang-Moon is currently serving in the military after a court ruled against his case to avoid conscription to continue playing on tour.

Other notable golfers from the country, K.J. Choi and 2009 USPGA Champion Y.E. Yang completed their stints with the military before turning professional.

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