Kevin Na has blasted the three-year ban handed down by the Korean Tour to Bio Kim as “ridiculous”.
Kim, 29, was hit with the sanction this week after making a rude gesture to the crowd after a phone went off during his backswing in the final round of the DGB Financial Group Volvik Daegu Gyeongbuk Open.
Three-time PGA Tour winner Na struck up a close friendship with Kim when he played on the PGA tour in 2011 and, ahead of this week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, he slammed the punishment that has been handed down.
“What he did was wrong. Kind of surprised me. He's not that kind of person,” said Na. “Should he be fined? Yes. Three years is ridiculous. It seems pretty extreme to me.
“You're taking a man's job for three years. Yes, he was unprofessional and there should be consequences for it, but not take a man's job away for three years. At the same time, the spectator was disrespecting the game and the player at the same time.”
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Na added that he has reached out to people “high up in Korean society” to see if they might be able to intervene and has also connected Kim with officials on the PGA Tour so that he might be able to continue his career elsewhere, be that on the Korn Ferry Tour, China Tour, Latin American Tour or another circuit.
“He's depressed. I mean, I can hear it in his voice,” added Na. “He sounded just torn.
“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.
“If this was fifth or sixth offense, I get it. But when you have no offense and have had good behaviour, you're a good guy, people like him, you can't do that to a person.”