The 31-year-old has spent the last 21 months as
a rifleman in the army, honoring the requirement for all
able-bodied Korean men between the ages of 18 and 35 to
undertake military service as a deterrent to North Korean
Bae, whose last tournament was the President's Cup on home soil
in 2015, had little chance to practice during his stint but said
the time away had not dulled his love for the game.
He plans to make his return to professional golf at next month's
$1 million Shinhan Donghae Open, which is co-sanctioned by the
Asian Tour and Korean PGA.
"I did a lot of weight lifting and running to improve my
conditioning, and I am not concerned about my fitness level at
all," he said in an Asian Tour statement.
"Even though I didn't get to play much, I grew to love golf even
"I've had such great memories serving in the military and I feel
that I've grown a lot stronger."
Bae was granted U.S. residency in 2013 and had initially
challenged the Military Manpower Administration's decision to
call him up, hoping to delay his conscription in order to
continue his lucrative career in the United States.
He was charged with violating South Korea's military service
regulations and later lost a legal battle to defer his service.
After so much time away from competitive golf, Bae knows he has
to put the hours in on the practice range if he is to be ready
in time for his comeback event, which begins on Sept. 14.
"From today and until the start of the tournament, I can't
afford to be doing anything else," Yonhap News quoted him as
"I have a lot of work to do," he added. "I've been dying to play
golf. I've been dreaming of the moment when I find myself in
contention for a title."
(Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by John O'Brien)
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