SEOUL - South Korean golfer Bae Sang Moon has been ordered to return home to complete his military service, putting the 28-year-old's burgeoning PGA Tour career on hold.
Bae, who has won twice on the prestigious United States Tour, had his overseas travel permit extension request rejected by the Military Manpower Administration, Yonhap news agency reported on Monday, quoting his mother.
The world No. 84, who has qualified to compete in the Masters in April, must return to South Korea at the end of next month or risk criminal charges, as his current permit expires in the coming days, his mother added.
All South Korean men aged between 18 and 35 must complete two years of military service. The country is still technically at war with North Korea, after a peace treaty went unsigned following the 1950-53 Korean War.
However, sporting success has enabled some athletes to dodge military service, with the government waiving the mandatory practice for any athlete who wins Asian Games gold or an Olympic medal.
Bae, who won the Frys.com Open in October, is the highest-ranked South Korean golfer and would be expected to compete at the Rio Games in 2016 when the sport makes its return to the Olympics.
The South Korean - who has also won tournaments on the Asian, Japan and OneAsia tours - made his PGA Tour debut in 2012 and was granted US residency two years ago.