Kim Si Woo, 21, wins Players Championship
South Korean is youngest player to win event
He's due to undertake military service
Kim Si Woo might have become the youngest ever winner of the Players Championship, but the 21-year-old from Seoul won’t be receiving too much special treatment back in South Korea.
That’s because all able-bodied South Korean men must complete military service between the ages of 18 and 35 as the country is still technically at war with neighbor North Korea,
While exemptions are offered to athletes who medal at the Olympic Games or win gold at the Asian Games, significant achievements on the PGA Tour do not yet warrant an exception.
“I really wish I could have that benefit,” Kim, who is only the second South Korean after K.J. Choi to reign supreme at Sawgrass, told reporters through a translator Sunday.
“However, regardless of me winning this tournament I really have to go to the military service and I’ve already decided I’m going to go so I’m ready for that.”
When asked when he will take time out to complete his service, which will last for at least 21 months, Kim said he still wasn’t sure.
Kim’s triumph saw him replace Australia’s Adam Scott as the youngest ever winner of the Players Championship, which is regarded as golf’s unofficial fifth major.
It also marked Kim’s second win on the PGA Tour after he was victorious at the Wyndham Championship last year.
Mandatory military service has impacted the careers of a number of South Korean athletes.
Kim’s golfing compatriot Bae Sang-moon lost a legal battle to defer military service in 2015, Reuters reports.
Other high profile athletes to wrestle with the issue in recent years include Texas Rangers outfielder Choo Shin-soo and former AS Monaco striker Park Chu-young, according to the Korea Herald.
Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Son Heung-min is also likely to have to complete military service unless South Korea wins gold at the 2018 Asian Games.
Cabrera Bello albatross
Elsewhere at Sawgrass on Sunday there was drama as Rafa Cabrera Bello scored a rare albatross.
The Spaniard’s second shot on the par-five 16th took a kick off the front of the green before heading straight for the cup marking the first time a double eagle has been recorded at the 525-yard hole in tournament history.
Cabrera Bello finished in a tie for fourth position with Kyle Stanley behind Kim, Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poulter who tied for second.
Yet he wasn’t the only Spaniard pulling out miracle shots over the weekend.
Sergio Garcia carded a hole-in-one on the famous par-three 17th in Thursday’s opening round.
Reigning Masters champion Garcia’s ace could only help him finish tied for 13th on six-over-par.