More than just a medal...


While some players have taken the option of giving the Olympics a swerve there is plenty more at stake for Korea's Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim – in their home country all men are required to fulfil a 20-month military service by their 28th birthday but, should you win a medal at the Games, then you are exempt and you can carry on playing on Tour.

Both players actually chose to skip the Open to prepare themselves for Tokyo – Im is 23 and may have two goes at his exemption. He is best known for playing in a load of events, winning the Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour and a second place at the 2020 Masters. Kim won twice on the PGA Tour as a 21-year-old, the second of those victories making him the youngest-ever winner of the Players Championship in 2017, he has since added a third victory.

Two-time PGA Tour winner Sangmoon Bae, another Presidents Cup player, is one player who has been through the system, serving as a rifleman and operating machine guns on a salary of $2,000 a year. He missed seven of his first eight cuts back, then came through the second-string tour to get his PGA Tour card back before then losing it. 

Noh Seung-yul is another who did his military service in 2017: “I slept in a room with just a ton of bunk beds. I think that was the case pretty much everywhere. They’ve been trying to renovate and give people actual mattresses. We had these portable ones that you pulled out. Most people just felt like they didn’t have a choice."

When Jon Rahm, who has since tested positive again for Covid and will miss the Games, was told of how things work in Korea he joked: “Well, I would say if we're fighting for fourth and third place, I'm open for bribing if he needs me to make a three-putt on the last hole. We can always talk about it. I like Korean food. We can always talk about it.”

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