Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim withdrew from the 2021 Open Championship on Friday, choosing instead to use that time to prepare for the Olympic Games later this month in Tokyo. Top 50 players in the OWGR, Im was 50-1 to win at Royal St. George's while Kim was 40-1, according to William Hill Sportsbook. They are both Olympic qualifiers for South Korea.
Keegan Bradley and Emiliano Grillo will replace Kim and Im in the Open Championship field.
Im and Kim are subject to mandatory military service at some point, which they can avoid if they win an Olympic medal, perhaps explaining why the two would choose to skip out on one of golf's four major championships. The first practice round for the Olympics at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Japan is eight days after the Open Championship ends on July 18.
Im had a career-best finish at a major championship last year when he tied for runner-up at the 2020 Masters behind Dustin Johnson. He finished T17 at the PGA Championship and posted consecutive T35 finishes at the Palmetto Championship and U.S. Open to close out June, working his way up to No. 26 in the world. Kim has also had some recent bright spots including a career-best T12 finish at the Masters earlier this year. In 25 events this year, he's had four top-10 finishes.
Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines also previously announced he would skip the Open Championship to focus on preparing for the Olympics. Pagunsan qualified after winning for the first time on the Japan Golf Tour at the Mizuno Open.
The Open Championship will be held July 15-18 at Royal St. George's in England.