Story highlights

  • Kim Si Woo, 21, wins Players Championship
  • South Korean is youngest player to win event
  • He’s due to undertake military service

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.”

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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.

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Legal battle

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.
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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.