With his stint in the South Korean military now over, two-time PGA Tour winner Sangmoon Bae is eager to turn his attention back to golf.
Bae has not played since the 2015 Presidents Cup in Korea, after which he began a 21-month military obligation that is required of all able-bodied Korean men between the ages of 18 and 35. He was discharged from the Korean army on Wednesday and released a statement via the Asian Tour to express his excitement at getting back out on the course.
“I’ve had such great memories serving in the military, and I feel that I’ve grown a lot stronger,” Bae said. “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.”
Bae advanced to the Tour Championship and was ranked 85th in the world at the end of the 2014-15 season, and he would have been exempt on Tour for another two years by virtue of his win at the 2014 Safeway Open. With his stint in the military complete, Bae will instead be granted a one-year “hardship” exemption by the Tour which will give him status for the 2017-18 season.
The 31-year-old will return to competition at the Sept. 14-17 Shinhan Donghae Open, an event that is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Korean PGA, before returning to golf in the U.S. the following month.
“I’ve been dying to play golf,” Bae told Yonhap News. “I want to get some practice in and get into tournament golf. I’ve been dreaming of the moment when I find myself in contention for a title.”