Silver Medalist Jeong forgoes Australian citizenship

South Korea's Jeong Jin finished as the top amateur in the 139th Open Championship at St. Andrews. He finished in joint 14th-place.

History-maker Jeong Jin has decided to retain his South Korean citizenship.

Following recent high-profile successes in Scotland, speculation had been rife that the 20-year-old would become an Australian national.

But in the wake of his triumphs in the British Amateur Championship and the Open Championship at St. Andrews, where he won the Silver Medal as the leading amateur, Jeong has opted to continue representing the country of his birth.

Jeong has spent the past four years living in Australia and has permanent residency there. He had considered taking up an Australian passport, but following extensive family discussions will not give up his Korean citizenship.

By accepting permanent resident status in Australia, Jeong is able to delay entering compulsory military service in Korea until he is 30.

“It’s been a very tough decision for Jin and his family,” said Trevor Flakemore, Jeong’s coach and mentor, who is based at Australia’s Waverley Golf Club.

“He acknowledges the fantastic support and backing he has received from Golf Australia,” Flakemore said. “But with his newfound fame and profile in his homeland, it is important to not get any negative press that may damage his situation.”

Jeong had hoped that his outstanding performances in Scotland would put him in contention for a place on the Korean teams for October’s World Amateur Team Championships in Buenos Aires and November’s Guangzhou Asian Games.

Although that appears unlikely, his popularity in Korea has soared. “He’s had a lot of positive reaction in Korea and his profile there has been raised considerably,” said Flakemore, adding that Jeong has accepted an invitation to play in the Korean Open at Woo Jeong Hills Country Club on the outskirts of Seoul on Oct. 7-10.

Jeong is in the United States, where he tied for 44th in the prestigious Porter Cup. After competing in this month’s U.S. Amateur Championship, he will head to Switzerland for the Omega European Masters, an event co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Asian Tour.

Later this year, he is guaranteed starting spots in the three biggest professional events in Australia: the Australian Masters, Australian Open and Australian PGA.

Flakemore said it is still Jeong’s intention to turn professional next April after playing in the Masters at Augusta National, a reward for winning the British Amateur, the first Asian to do so in the event’s 125-year history.

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