Sang Moon Bae has wrapped up his required stint in the South Korean military and will return to golf in September at the Asian Tour's Shinhan Donghae Open. As a South Korean male, Bae was required to spend two years in his country's military, despite taking up residence in the United States.
The 31-year-old has spent the last 21 months as a rifleman in the army, honoring the requirement for all able-bodied Korean men between the ages of 18 and 35 to undertake military service as a deterrent to North Korean aggression.
Bae was granted U.S. residency in 2013 and had initially challenged the Military Manpower Administration's decision to call him up, hoping to delay his conscription in order to continue his lucrative career in the United States.
Bae won the AT&T Byron Nelson in 2013 and the Safeway Open in 2014 before heading off to the military following the Presidents Cup in 2015.
"I've had such great memories serving in the military, and I feel that I've grown a lot stronger," Bae told the Asian Tour. "I did a lot of weight lifting and running to improve my conditioning, and I am not concerned about my fitness level at all. Even though I didn't get to play much, I grew to love golf even more."
Even though it's been nearly two years, I'm pretty fired up for Bae's return to the sport. He was a really good young talent who soared as high as No. 27 in the world in 2012. He's now ranked No. 1,639, but he does have an exemption to continue playing the PGA Tour.
That buttery swing has been missed, and now yet another immense talent will (hopefully) be back in the mix at WGCs and major championships.