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Bio Kim: Why was Korean Player Banned for Three Years?

Korean player Bio Kim’s career is facing potential ruin after he was hit with a three-year ban by the Korea PGA for raising his middle finger at a spectator.

While the ban might not yet be applied across the PGA TOUR, European Tour and other global tour events, Kim is facing up to the prospect of not playing professionally until late 2022 following the indiscretion that caused his suspension.

Who is Bio Kim?

Bio Kim is a 29-year-old South Korean golfer and is the leader of the Order of Merit and points earner on the Korea Tour this year.

He was leading the Daegu-Gyeongbuk Open in South Korea when the incident happened with Kim raising his middle finger at a fan who had clicked him camera as he attempted to tee off on the 16th. The shot went just 100 yards and prompted the unsavoury reaction.

Kim went on to win the tournament—his 5th on the Korean Golf Tour and second of 2019—for his sixth professional career success in total, but it was tarnished by the suspension which subsequently followed.

Kim has played on the PGA TOUR, OneAsia Tour and Korn Ferry Tour during his career since turning professional in 2009, and has appeared in one major—finishing tied 45th in the 2013 US Open at Merion Golf Club.

Kim was named Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year on the Korean Tour in 2010.

Before turning professional, Kim had signalled his talent when winning the Korean Amateur Open and Japan Amateur Golf Championship in 2008.

What was Bio Kim banned for?

Three year suspensions are usually associated with drug bans or serious indiscretions, but the Korean PGA were showing no signs of leniency with Kim.

He was officially banned for a violation against the etiquette of the game for his middle finger salute to the spectator who had allowed the camera to make a noise during his shot on the 16th hole as Kim attempted to hold onto his lead.

The Korean PGA opted for a three-year punishment before the Korean Tour issued a statement saying: “Kim Bio damaged the dignity of a golfer with etiquette violation and inappropriate behaviour.”

Kim apologised in the aftermath of the incident, and was seen kneeling in front of TV cameras to show his remorse, but vowed not to appeal the suspension.

Kim was also fined an amount equivalent to $8,350 as part of the punishment, but that will pale into insignificance compared to a loss of three years of earnings.

Support from the PGA Tour

Kevin Na, the American-Korean golfer who like Kim was born Seoul, came out in support of the banned golfer during the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin which he went on to win.

Na’s caddie Kenny Harms wore a hat with the wording “Free Bio Kim” and told USA Today: “It is probably one of the worst decisions in sports history. If that happens on the PGA TOUR, there’s going to be a fine. A three-year suspension? Three weeks would be too much.

“The guy’s No. 1 on the money list, he’s one of the best players coming out of Korea who plays on that tour, and you’re going to put him in jail? That’s why I wore this. We’re all behind him. The whole golf industry is behind him.”

Na himself added: “Yes, what he did was wrong. Should he be fined? Yes. But three years is ridiculous. You’re taking a man’s job for three years. Yes, he was unprofessional and there should be consequences for it, but don’t take a man’s job away for three years.

“I am sure the Korean Tour players are getting together and getting their voice out. All the players around the world should get a voice out and say this is ridiculous. You can’t take a man’s job away for three years for one incident. Everybody makes mistakes.”

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