Im and Kim are both from South Korea, and all able-bodied men are required to serve two years of military service before they turn 28 years old. Kim is 26 years old, and this year’s Olympics is his last chance at not having to serve. Im is 23 years old, so he will have this year and the next Olympics to medal, so he doesn’t have to serve. There are certain exceptions for athletes, and medaling at the Olympics is an exception.
This isn’t the first time this has happened to a top 50 golfer. Back in 2015, Sangmoon Bae served his 20-month term from 2015-2017. In 2015 Bae was ranked 26th in the world, the same as Sungjae Im. After his 2 year hiatus from the golf world, he was never the same. Since returning from his military service, Bae hasn’t cracked the top 10 in any tournament, and the best he did was in 2018 when he tied for 15th AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
I doubt they hand out insane jobs where Im and Kim are handling machine guns, but it has to suck more than being a professional golfer. Pro golfers live the best life out of all of the other pro athletes. They travel to amazing spots, they don’t have to deal with cold wintery conditions, they don’t have to worry about a GM trading them to another team, and it’s up to them on how great they play no other teammates.
Golfing at the Olympics might be the best sporting event. Where else are we going to see this much pressure? Imagine it’s the final day Im and Kim are both tied for 4th they have one day to move up to 2nd and 3rd. If they do it they get to keep living their normal life on the PGA Tour, and if they fail they have to serve in the military. That’s some shit that would be a Disney movie. Regardless, it’s going to be electric.