PGA Tour

Bae forgets military, marches to victory

Bae Sang-Moon (AFP)
Bae Sang-Moon (AFP)

Incheon - Local hero Bae Sang-Moon delivered a telling Presidents Cup blow for the International team on Friday and said thoughts of impending military service had taken a back seat, for a few days at least.

With his fourball match alongside Korean-born Kiwi Danny Lee all square with Americans Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker on the final hole at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, the local hero rolled in a 12-foot pressure-packed birdie putt to seal a vital win.

"There were no tears," joked an emotional but jovial Bae who was making his Presidents Cup debut in his final professional tournament before embarking on 21 months' compulsory service in the military. Bae sat out Thursday's opening foursomes.

"I knew that it was going to be a very important putt. I actually did not think about my military service issue at that time. I concentrated on the shot and it went in, so it was a good result."

The deafening roars from packed galleries watching the pair, who are both embraced as Koreans by local fans, could be heard right across the depth and breadth of the course as the putt dropped.

It led to wild celebrations from Bae, Lee and their caddies. Lee admitted it had been an outpouring of relief after he had not played well himself.

"Thank god I was playing with Sang-Moon today," said the New Zealander. "I'm pretty sure I helped on a couple of holes, but not that much.

"I was nervous watching him. So he had to stand up and man up and hit that golf ball. I'm pretty sure he was shockingly nervous," Lee said to laughter from reporters.

"I've never felt this kind of nerves before in my life. I feel like I just won a golf tournament," he added.

Bae will partner Japan's Hideki Matsuyama in Saturday morning's foursomes, an unusual partnership for some given years of animosity between the neighbouring Asian countries.

Bae played a straight bat when asked if the duo could help promote ties in golf between the two countries who have not seen eye-to-eye since Korea was annexed by Japan from 1910-45.

"If you were asking about how I can contribute to the improvement of the bilateral relationship between Korea and Japan, I'm afraid that I am not in a position to talk about a sensitive or political issue here," Bae said sternly.

"My focus during the Presidents Cup is to do my best at each and every single match so that I can contribute to the team."

The US lead 5.5-4.5 after the first two days. The first team to 15.5 points wins the Presidents Cup.

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