AKRON, Ohio – International Presidents Cup captain Nick Price hopes to have a South Korean-born player on his roster when the country hosts the biennial matches for the first time later this month, but he’s still unsure if his roster options will include Sangmoon Bae.
Bae has won twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at the 2014 Frys.com Open, but he has been ordered to return to South Korea to complete a mandatory two-year military service. Bae has announced plans to play out the rest of the 2014-15 season before returning to Korea.
While he enters this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at No. 31 in the FedEx Cup points list, Bae has missed five of his last seven cuts and last recorded a top-25 finish at the Northern Trust Open. As a result, he has slipped to No. 25 in the Presidents Cup standings, with only the top 10 qualifying for the matches at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon.
Price said he would like to consider Bae for a potential pick, especially since the 29-year-old has won Korean Tour events on the host course each of the last two years, but it remains to be seen if Bae will be available for the Oct. 8-11 matches.
“He loves the golf course, but his form the last six weeks, eight weeks has not been very good,” Price said. “I’m hoping that he plays well the next couple weeks, the next four or five weeks. I still haven’t spoken to him as to when he has to go and start his service.”
Should Price look past Bae, he still has a pair of Korean-born players on the cusp of qualifying. Danny Lee, who was born in Korea but grew up in New Zealand, won The Greenbrier Classic last month and now sits at No. 13 in the standings, while Byeong-Hun An captured the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship in May and is now at No. 11.
“The guy is a hell of a player. He’s a very, very strong player,” Price said of An. “As far as I’m concerned, it would be sad if we don’t get a Korean on the team. It really would. But that’s a decision we’re going to have to make Sept. 8.”