When the Korean PGA Tour suspended Bio Kim, its leading money winner this season, for three years after flipping off an offending fan down the stretch of a tournament he won, it sent shockwaves through much of the western golf world.
How in the world did Kim deserve a three-year forced break when it was the fan's legally-required shutter sound that messed him up on the 70th hole of a tournament?
Now nearly a month after the suspension left Kim's professional career hanging in the balance, the Korean PGA has reconsidered their sanction.
The Korean PGA has reduced the 29-year-old Kim's suspension from three years to one year, according to a report by the Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo. In reducing the suspension, the Korean PGA revised its punishment to require Kim to perform 120 hours of community service. Kim was originally fined approximately $8,500 for the offense, and that still stands.
Bio Kim (김비오) was playing the 16th hole at the DGB Financial Group Volvik Daegu Gyeongbuk Open at the end of September when a fan's cell-phone camera shutter sound went off mid-swing. After hitting the ball and dropping his club, Kim quickly turned toward where the sound emanated and gave the fan the middle finger, shocking the crowd. Kim led the tournament by a shot at the moment and went on to win for his second KPGA title of the season. He became the tour's leading money winner.
Two days later, the Korean PGA held an emergency meeting to consider action against Kim, which resulted in a unanimous vote on the three-year suspension and fine. Kim prostrated before TV cameras and apologized further after he learned his punishment.
"Kim Bi-o damaged the dignity of a golfer with etiquette violation and inappropriate behavior," the KPGA said in a statement.
Kim remains ineligible to compete on the Korean PGA Tour until October 2020, meaning he will need to find a place to play in the intervening time. That could include trying to return to the United States to qualify for Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour events, both tours on which he has held status as recently as 2018.