Golfer who threw a temper-tantrum at the Masters is under some unique pressure

Military obligation could derail his golfing career

Si Woo Kim of South Korea lines up his putt with his 3-wood on the 18th green during the second round of the Masters. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox)
Si Woo Kim of South Korea lines up his putt with his 3-wood on the 18th green during the second round of the Masters. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox) (Getty Images)

The reaction was one that any casual golfer could certainly relate to, and it maybe even brought about some chuckles.

But the backstory that likely contributed to the reaction is definitely no laughing matter -- and it all comes down to pressure that isn’t at all relatable, for most.

Si Woo Kim, a 25-year-old golfer from South Korea, made some headlines this past weekend in the second round of the Masters, when he snapped his putter by pounding it into the ground on the 15th hole after a chip rolled well past it, forcing him to use a 3-wood as his putter for the rest of the round.

When the hole was completed, he threw his ball in the water.

Moments earlier, Kim had three-putted the 14th hole for a bogey.

Anybody who plays golf regularly can understand.

What golfer HASN’T occasionally wanted to scream to the heavens, cursing why the game was invented, or treat their clubs like they’re garbage?

Some were still a little aghast at Kim’s temper-tantrum, given it’s a professional’s job to control those emotions, but then again, no professional is facing the pressure Kim is, at the moment.

Kim’s home country of South Korea requires all men between the ages of 18 and 28 to fulfill a two-year military obligation, something he hasn’t done yet.

Since turning professional in 2012, Kim has won close to $14 million in earnings and three tournaments on the PGA Tour, including the Players Championship in 2017. He finished tied for 12th at the Masters and has his PGA Tour card until at least 2024, by virtue of that win at the Players Championship.

Given his age, Kim is pretty much waiting it out as long as he can when it comes to his military obligation.

But there is one potential out-clause, according to Golf Digest.

If Kim can earn a medal at this year’s Olympics during the golf competition, he will be granted an exemption from military service. He would only have to do four weeks of basic military training and attend a few days of annually military training for six years.

However, Kim has to make sure he qualifies for the Olympics.

South Korea has just two slots for male golfers at the Olympics, and there is competition between Kim, Sungjae Im, Ben An and Sung Kang.

Because of that, any good result at a tournament, especially at a major event like the Masters, goes a long way in making sure Kim can at least get to the Olympics and earn the right to avoid what could be career-damaging time away from golf, right in his prime.

Golf is the ultimate rhythm and momentum game, and a few months away could be detrimental, let alone two years.

Other South Korean golfers on the PGA Tour who have had to take the hiatus to fulfill military obligations have struggled upon their return, most notably, Sangmoon Bae, a member of the 2015 International President’s Cup team who hasn’t finished among the top 200 in the FedEx Cup standings the past three seasons since his return.

For Kim, every stroke at each tournament he plays in this year could be the difference from getting his shot at the Olympics or not.

No doubt, that puts his tantrum on Friday into different perspective.


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