Two-time PGA Tour winner Bae Sang-moon will put his professional golf career on hold and return to his native South Korea for mandatory military service.
Yonhap News Agency reported Wednesday that Bae lost his administrative suit. The Daegu District Court ruled South Korea's Military Manpower Administration (MMA) was right to not renew Bae's expired visa in December 2014.
The report also included comments from the 29-year-old golfer, who filed the lawsuit once the MMA rebuffed his request to extend his stay as a United States resident:
I'd like to apologize to my fans for causing them concerns. I decided that I can mature further as a golfer by returning home as soon as I can and complete my mandatory military service.
[...] I felt this was a critical time for me as a young athlete to continue to compete on the U.S. golf tour. And I'd been doing the best I could to extend my stay, which was the legal and reasonable way. But the court's ruling today reminded me of the fact I should put my duty as a South Korean citizen ahead of my golfing career.
South Korea came to an armistice agreement to end a war with North Korea that lasted from 1950 to 1953, but the countries are still engaged in military conflict. No official end to the war was declared. North Korea proclaimed the prior ceasefire arrangement to be invalid in March 2013.
Able-bodied men in the age range of 18 and 35 in South Korea are required to serve two years in the military.
The presumptive prime of Bae's golf career will be waiting for him on the other side of his military service, but he'll have some rust to kick off when he returns to competition.