By now you’ve heard the news of Korea’s Bio Kim.
On Sunday, the 29-year-old picked up his second win of the season on the Korean Tour in the DGB Financial Group Volvik Daegu Gyeongbuk Open. But the win isn’t what made headlines.
Instead, on the 16th hole in the final round, after a cellphone camera shutter went off during his downswing, Kim turned and gave a fan the middle finger before slamming his club into the ground.
The Korean PGA Tour has suspended Bio Kim for 3 years after he flipped off a fan using their cell phone in his swing 😲 pic.twitter.com/hbfmLJeiVB
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) October 1, 2019
Out of character for a professional golfer? Sure. But something the sport hasn’t seen before? Not by a long shot.
Most would agree that something like that is certainly deserving of a slap on the wrist in the form of a fine.
But what Kim was handed down — swiftly — from the Korean Tour was almost impossible to fathom for such a minor slip-up: A three-year ban.
In a statement, the Korean Tour said: “Kim Bi-o damaged the dignity of a golfer with etiquette violation and inappropriate behavior.”
Many felt the punishment didn’t fit the crime, including multiple PGA Tour winner, Kevin Na.
Na, who was born in South Korea, has been like a big brother to Kim. This week before the start of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Na spoke about the incident, the punishment and what he hoped could come out of it:
During Thursday’s opening round of the Shriners at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Na’s caddie Kenny Harms — who calls Kim a friend — made a statement with his choice of headwear in support of Kim.
“I was talking on Wednesday with Kevin about what he was doing for Bio,” Harms told The Caddie Network in a text on Thursday evening. “I said to him, ‘what if I made a hat for Bio and wore it in the tournament?’ Great idea. So, I went to Lids and had the ‘Free Bio Kim’ hat made. The KPGA is going to ruin a man’s life over giving a fan the finger who was in the wrong is criminal! Worst decision ever made in the history of all sports! People have been caught cheating and haven’t gotten a three-year suspension! The KPGA needs to do a better job with educating their fans on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to taking pictures. Five times that day he had cameras go off in the middle of his swing!”
Harms added, “Bio has never had an incident like this before. First time and he gets three years. You just can’t make this up! Three weeks would be too long!”
Kim, who apologized on his knees for the incident on Monday, has 15 days to appeal the suspension. However, Kim told ESPN.com that he didn’t plan to appeal, because it might suggest his apology is not genuine.
With support from golfers all over the world and with Harms’ statement on Thursday, it will be interesting to see if the Korean Tour alters its decision.