Although a dispute over potential mandatory military service hangs over his head, Sang-Moon Bae plans to compete in next week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
According to his manager, Bae, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, has a valid green card and is contacting lawyers to “work through the military issues” in his native South Korea. Bae was granted U.S. residency two years ago.
“Sang-Moon intends to stay in the United States as long as it is lawful to do so and play on the PGA Tour this year, beginning with next week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua,” his manager said in a statement. “As this is an ongoing legal matter, he will make no additional statements until the issue is resolved.”
At issue is a South Korean requirement that states all men between the ages of 18-35 must complete two years of military service. Since a peace treaty wasn’t signed after the 1950-53 Korean War, South Korea is still technically at war with North Korea.
Bae, who won the Frys.com Open in October, is ranked second in the FedExCup and 84th in the world. According to the Yonhap news agency, Bae’s mother said earlier this week that the golfer had his request for the extension of his overseas travel permit rejected by the Military Manpower Administration.
In the past, the Korean government has been known to waive the military service requirement for athletes winning gold at the Asian Games or any Olympic medal. Bae is the highest ranked golfer in Korea and a likely candidate to represent his country when golf returns to the Olympic in 2016 at Rio de Janeiro.