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South Korean golfer gets three-year ban for middle finger gesture

Kim Bi-o kneels and begs for forgiveness before being banned for three years by the Korean Professional Golf Association © YONHAP/AFP

SEOUL, Korea, Republic of, Oct 1 – A South Korean golfer has been suspended for three years for sticking up his middle finger at the crowd over a cellphone camera noise, the Korea Professional Golfers’ Association (KPGA) said Tuesday.

Kim Bi-o reacted angrily after he was startled by the shutter sound of a smartphone camera which affected his shot at the 16th hole at Sunday’s DGB Financial Group Volvik Daegu Gyeongbuk Open.

Kim, who leading by a stroke at the time, turned to the crowd and made the gesture before slamming his club on the ground in frustration.

The 29-year-old went on to win the tournament — becoming the first two-time winner on the tour in 2019 — and later apologised for losing his temper.

On Tuesday, Kim kneeled in front of television cameras as he fought back tears and apologised again after attending an emergency KPGA meeting over his action.

But the KPGA later said it had reached a unanimous decision to suspend the golfer for three years from the Korean tour with a fine of 10 million won (US$8,350).

“Kim Bi-o damaged the dignity of a golfer with etiquette violation and inappropriate behaviour,” it said in a statement.

Kim leads the tour in money and Player of the Year points, but the suspension means he will not be able to finish the season.

Kim, who has six professional wins to his name, played on the US PGA Tour in 2011 after earning his place via Q-SChool. He also had two seasons on the second-tier tour.

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