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Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim Are Skipping the British Open Because They Need to Medal at the Olympics to Avoid Mandatory Military Service in South Korea

Golf Digest — Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim have dropped out of the Open Championship in order to focus on the Tokyo Olympics, the R&A announced Friday afternoon. 

Im and Kim will represent South Korea at the golf competition in the Summer Games, scheduled to begin at the end of the month. While a handful of stars are skipping the Olympics, the Games are especially important for Im and Kim, as winning the gold medal would earn an exemption from a mandatory two-year service in the South Korean military.

Man, you wanna talk about some stakes. "Hey fellas, no pressure or anything, but if you don't medal at this year's Olympics, we're gonna have to take you boys off the Tour and bring you back home for that mandatory military service we talked about."

I don't know what kinds of jobs they're handing out in the South Korean military to two of the 50 best golfers in the world, but I'd imagine even if they're not out there with machine guns, it's decidedly less fun than traveling the world playing golf.

And that's not to even mention what could happen to their games once they spend two years away from golf. Some people on Twitter were quick to point to Sang-moon Bae, who was ranked 26th in the world — currently the same as Sungjae Im — when he returned to South Korea to complete his military service and never quite returned to the form he had before.

But there's one way out. As long as these guys are in contention for medals down the stretch, it will possibly be the most fascinating television of the Olympics. I can't imagine there's another event with circumstances quite like this on the line.

I'll definitely be tuned in.