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Bae Makes First US Start After Korean Military Service

The highly talented Sang Moon Bae is back after fulfilling military duties in Korea (Photo: Asian Tour)
With his two years of compulsory military service complete, South Korean Sang-Moon Bae says his game is a little rusty as he prepares to make his return to the PGA Tour for the first time in more than two years at this week's 2017-18 season opener in California.

Bae hasn't competed on the world's biggest circuit since the 2015 Tour Championship, and this week's Safeway Open at Silverado Country Club in the world famous Napa wine region is a fitting venue for his return as the site of the last of his two PGA Tour wins three years ago. 

"I've been dying to play golf," Bae told Golf Channel at the Safeway Open.

"Just so happy to be here, just I need to get ready to play this week."

"I have a great memory on this course."

Bae said his military service in his native South Korea was an experience he cherished.

"It was an honour to be a part of it, it really means a lot. It was a pretty great experience. It was a beautiful great memory.

"I learned how to be patient the past two years so I'm pretty positive about my future."

Sang-moon Bae in military gear at #AAC2016 Gala Dinner. Great to see the @asiantourgolf @attbyronnelson winner & @PresidentsCup @PGATOUR pic.twitter.com/lEkuAO2dVu

— AAC_Golf (@AAC_Golf) October 8, 2016

Sang-Moon Bae during his two-year military service in South Korea.

Now ranked outside the top 1900 in the world, Bae recently returned to tournament golf in a Korean PGA Tour event he had won twice previously and missed the cut and said he is still finding his touch on the course.

"My game is a little loose maybe so I'm trying to find some feel and how to play golf but actually I try not to lose my golf skills so I'm working on it, it feels pretty good."

This week marks the start of the new PGA Tour season just two weeks after the previous one was completed.

Australians in the field are an interesting mix with Steve Allan qualifying on Monday for the event.

Allan has played this event just once and did well when he did. He finished 7th in 2008 before losing his PGA Tour status and this appears a good opportunity for him to at least attempt to play his way back to the PGA Tour. Just to successfully negotiate his way through the Monday qualifying process is an achievement in itself.

He will be joined by Matt Jones, who played his way back to the PGA Tour courtesy of 5th place finish at the Web.Com Tour’s Tour Championship, Aaron Baddeley and Greg Chalmers.

Interestingly Stuart Appleby - now without status on the PGA Tour - gained a start in the field but is instead playing the Alfred Dunhill Links event in Scotland.

Brendan Steele is the defending champion in what is a relatively understrength field if indeed a field of PGA Tour players can be called understrength but certainly, relatively, it is.

The leading ranked player in the field is Phil Mickelson who played the event for just the second time when finishing 8th last year. Mickelson did not make it to the Tour Championship but did play well in two of the three FedEx Cup Playoff events and will start as both the tournament and fan favourite, especially give he is playing in his home state.

Tony Finau finished 7th at both the BMW and Tour Championships and has in three starts in this event has played solidly if unspectacularly.

Webb Simpson has missed the cut in each of his last two starts in this event but he is a resurgent golfer in 2017 and played well during the Fedex Cup Playoffs.  





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