PGA Tour winners Im Sung-jae, Kim Si-woo to play at Asian Games in Sept.

April 27, 2022

South Korean PGA Tour winners Im Sung-jae and Kim Si-woo will represent the country at this year’s Asian Games in China.

The Korea Golf Association (KGA) on Wednesday finalized the four-deep men’s team and the three-member women’s team for the Sept. 10-25 continental competition in Hangzhou.

For the first time since its Asian Games debut in 1982, golf will be open to professionals this year. The new opportunity for professionals at this event has significant implications for South Korean male players, since winning a gold medal at the Asian Games will grant them an exemption from the mandatory military service if they haven’t already completed it.

Im, the 2018-2019 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year with two tour victories to his credit, is the highest-ranked South Korean man at No. 19. Kim, who has three PGA Tour wins so far, is the next South Korean at No. 51. The two have not yet fulfilled their military duties. And because there are individual and team events at the Asian Games, it’s possible for both Im and Kim to win a gold medal in Hangzhou.

The two pros will be joined by two amateurs: Jang Yu-bin, the winner of the KGA President Cup Amateur Championships, and Cho Yoo-young, who won the Asian Games amateur trials.

For the women’s team, South Korean LPGA stars all turned down opportunities to compete in Hangzhou, and the KGA decided to take three amateurs instead.

They are: Bang Shin-sil, Kim Minbyeol and Jeong Ji-hyun, the top-three finishers at the Asian Games amateur trials.

The KGA had planned to take one female professional based on the current world rankings. South Korea currently has three top-10 players in Ko Jin-young (No. 1), Kim Hyo-joo (No. 8) and Park In-bee (No. 9), and all of them declined to compete at the Asian Games.

Hangzhou Westlake International Golf & Country Club will host the golf competition.

The individual event follows the typical stroke play format of a pro tournament, with the player having the lowest score after 72 holes getting the gold medal.

For the team competition, the three best scores from four male players and the two best scores from three female players in each round are combined to determine the medalists.

South Korea leads all countries with 13 gold, 13 silver and nine bronze medals at Asian Games so far, though other countries have been more successful at recent events.

South Korea did not win a gold medal in 2018 in Jakarta. The Philippines, led by the future U.S. Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso, won both the individual and team titles for women. South Korea had produced three straight women’s individual champions before Saso ended that streak in Indonesia.

Japan swept the men’s gold medals in Jakarta, with Keita Nakajima beating South Korean Oh Seung-taek for the individual title. The last South Korean male individual gold medalist is Kim Meen-whee in Guangzhou, China, in 2010.