There is a lot at stake for the people who play golf for a living. It is their means to live and to provide for their families.
However, for male South Korean golfers, specifically bonafide PGA Tour stars like Si Woo Kim and Sunjae Im, there was something even bigger to play for last weekend.
Im and Kim represented South Korea at the Asian Games in China and won the gold medal with their solid play.
By helping South Korea win its first team gold medal in 13 years at the Games, Im and Kim became exempt from the government-mandated 21 months of military service required by all able-bodied South Korean men before the age of 35.
Any South Korean athlete who wins an Olympic medal or gold medal at the Asian Games is exempt from the obligation.
2023 was the first year that professionals were eligible to compete in the Asian Games.
With that weight lifted, the young stars on the PGA Tour can now focus more solely on their golf careers without the mandatory military service looming over them.
“I think I should be able to stay focused even more on the PGA Tour,” Im told reporters in China, according to Yonhap News Agency. “I feel like I can have a really long and successful run there. I think this will help me so much mentally.”
The Korean men’s team has won the gold medal at the Asian Games! That means Sungjae Im, Si Woo Kim, Yubin Jang and Wooyoung Cho are now exempt from mandatory military conscription! This was the first time pro golfers could compete in the competition. pic.twitter.com/eHrNKKFxxm
— Ryan Ballengee (@RyanBallengee) October 1, 2023
Kim is also expecting his first baby with his wife.
“She knows how hard I’ve had to work for this,” Kim said. “I can’t wait to go see her. Ever since I married her, only good things have been happening in my career.”
Im, Kim, and amateurs Jang Yu-bin and Cho Woo-young did not leave any doubt, winning by 25 strokes over Thailand for the team gold medal at West Lake International Golf Course in Hangzhou, China.
Im won a silver medal by finishing second in the individual competition at 26-under par, one shot behind former Notre Dame player Taichi Kho of China. Kim finished fourth at 23-under.