Sang-moon Bae, the 29 year old 92nd ranked player in the world, is turning in his PGA Tour card for his mandatory military service for his native country of South Korea. But not if Patrick Reed and the gang has anything to say about it. You’re the movie exec, and here is our pitch. As with all Hollywood productions, some historical liberties may be taken.
The Escape from Pyeontaek
Rushmore Hollandaise & Soly
North Korea and South Korea have quietly been at war since 1950, and despite a relative stalemate for decades, the South Korean government requires all males to serve in the military for 21 months. Although exceptions have been made in the past, it does not appear that PGA Tour regular Sang-moon Bae is going to be given this luxury. Lawyer after lawyer hired, petition after petition written, but there is no wiggle room in the Republic’s eternal fight against Kim Jong-un. But that wasn’t going to stop one hero from trying.
Former U.S. Air Force colonel Barry “Squeeks” McCown (played by Clint Eastwood) was shot down over Incheon during the Korean War in the 1950’s, and spent years as a prisoner before escaping in 1953. Several years later, he would discover that he was sold out by a member of the ROK, as his flight plan was distributed to the enemy by a supposed ally.
Squeeks, an avid golf fan, is dreading the upcoming 2015 Presidents Cup, held in the same city he was shot down over during the war. To him, Incheon represents nothing but great failure in his life, as his mission failed, he was betrayed by his ally, and the U.S. was not able to leave the Republic with the victory trophy. At peace with the rest of his life, his family, and his career, this was only thing that still burned him up inside. He wanted revenge on his supposed ally, South Korea.
During his capture, Squeeks taught himself Korean. After his military service, his law career in the U.S. prospered before retiring in the 1990’s. But after hearing Bae’s story, the retired lawyer who had nothing on his hands but time spent the summer of 2015 digging into South Korean law, trying to save the young stud from a seemingly senseless obligation. What he found was an ancient and remote exception clause related to the required military service (translated from Korean):
“An exception can be made if the potential candidate can administer pride, grandeur, or splendor to the Republic of Korea through literature, musical composition, journalism, or athletic prowess prior to required service.”
Squeeks was able to track down Bae, and triumphantly pointed the South Korean government to adhere to this long forgotten clause. The wise and aged Squeeks was able to serve as both a mentor, and a legal advisor to Bae during that summer, and a friendship developed between the two. After a month long delay, the ROK was unable to poke a hole in Squeeks’ case, and provided Bae with his much desired exception…. under one condition:
“To provide the Republic of Korea with pride, grandeur, or splendor, the International team must win the 2015 Presidents Cup.”
The world becomes familiarized with the current situation, and it was clear that the stakes of the Presidents Cup had never been higher. The viewership numbers doubled (twenty people tuned in, compared to a previous record of ten). Several American players (particularly Patrick Reed) have developed friendships with Bae during this time on the PGA Tour, and while they want nothing more than to help Bae get out of his service, the thought of being the subject of a month’s worth of Golf.com think pieces wondering “WHAT IS WRONG WITH TEAM USA” was enough for them to still put forth their highest level of effort, rather than to throw the Presidents Cup to save Bae.
As fate would have it, the entire Cup, and Bae’s future, comes down to the final hole, with Bae squaring off with Bill Haas for his freedom. We know what happens next.
The team USA celebration is short-lived, as a South Korean military helicopter descends upon the 18th green, and immediately takes Bae into custody. Patrick Reed has seen enough, and charges at the helicopter with all of his might, only to be held back by his teammates.
“This ain’t right,” Reed exclaims, after finally calming down.
“It’s not,” Mickelson adds, “but we will avenge this. You have my word.”
Squeeks was there inside the ropes with Team Bae, and watching the young man taken into custody gave him flash backs of a similar capture in this same city sixty years earlier. Another failed mission. He hears Mickelson’s promise to Reed, and interjects.
“I’ve done all I can to help the kid. This is in your hands now.”
We flash forward several months, with two shadowy figures smoking cigars on the 18th green on Turnberry. The sky is gray and the Scotland twilight is approaching. We can’t see their faces.
“This is where you pissed it away Tom,” says one of the figures. “This is where American stopped. Being. Great. When you hit that putt like a 47 percenter, thinking someone should just *give* you par, it turned us into a nation of cowards. No other way to frame it. Obama took office the same year.”
The camera pans back to reveal our shadowy figures. It’s Donald Trump, talking to Tom Watson.
“You know Don, Obama was already president when I missed that putt. And an American actually won that Open,” says Watson. “Stewart Cink.”
“Stewart Cink? Sounds Israeli and Asian to me, Tom. I refuse to concede that name belongs to an American. Stewart is the name of my accountant, or someone from Canada, at best. I just want America to be great again. We need a gesture people can believe in again, Tom. A Saving Private Ryan thing, or something of that ilk.”
The two men are quiet for a moment. In the distance, they can just barely make out the silhouette of Paul Lawrie, wandering the grounds with another chubby Scottish single mum, regaling her with tales of 1999.
“Well, What if we got that Moon Bae kid out of his military service?” Watson says. “He seems like a nice young man who would never stab his captain in the back and then run over his captain’s crumpled body with his Gulfstream. I could text Webb and put together an extraction team.”
“Tom, I like your idea but you’re out. You’re not the man for this mission. You’re old and weak and you’re too nice. I have someone else in mind. ”
We cut to the Mickelson’s private practice green in San Diego, California. Mickelson is wearing flip flops, holding a glass of red wine and wearing a “Make America Great Again” Callaway visor. A large crowd of PGA players is milling around the pool, and Amy is roller skating effortlessly through the party with a tray of drinks, looking radiant and flashing her cheerleader grin.
Eventually, Mickelson stands on a chair and asks for everyone’s attention.
“Folks, I’m sure you’re all curious why I asked you here. It wasn’t just to catch up after a long season, and it wasn’t just to make a few wagers, although if you’re into that, I believe there is a WNBA game on in about an hour we could probably run a little action on. No, the reason I called you here is I want to put together a team to do the impossible.”
“Win you a US Open?” shouts Tiger, as he immediately looks around the room for approval.
“Good one, buddy,” Mickelson says. “Try not to yip your drink all over my wife. No, in truth, I want us to break Sang Moon Bae out of the South Korean military. I know a guy who can help fund us, and I believe this needs to happen. My sources say he’s in a bad situation. This is a good kid, a Callaway kid I love like a son, and no one understands what that means more than golfers. That’s why we need to get him out. We put together a team of the best America has, and we make it happen. I’ll be flying the chopper because I read a book on how to fly. Maybe it’s like hitting a flop shot off a cart path to a downhill pin guarded by water. It sounds nuts, but I’ll take those odds.”
“I think you and Tiger should go alone,” says Hal Sutton, nursing a Coors Light. “We owe it to history.”
“I appreciate that Hal, but Steiny just informed me that Tiger just had back surgery two hours ago,” Mickelson says.
“Doctors say they can’t believe how fast I’m recovering,” Tiger says. “They’ve never seen someone do power cleans with 315 pounds just 20 minutes after a second microdiscectomy. But I think I need to be cautious and sit this one out.”
“Unfortunately, I’m out too,” says Dustin Johnson. “Jet ski accident.”
“Really? Again?” says Jordan Spieth.
Johnson shrugs. “It’s what my agent says I have to tell people.”
“I have so much charity work I need to do,” Bubba Watson says. “Plus I don’t like the food over there. I wish you guys luck, but I’m out as well. Can I send Ted in my place?”
“What if we put our youngest and best players into pods?” says Paul Azinger. “They train, eat, sleep and fight together, and in the heat of battle, you know who has your back.”
“I love that idea, Paul,” Mickelson says. “Patrick, Jordan, Rickie, we need you to lead us. You’re the future of American golf.”
“I’ll take my wife Justine, and Joe Flacco in my pod,” Reed says. “Only elite motherfuckers with big fat rings in my crew.”
Flacco, unsure why he’d been invited up to that point, shrugs, then nods.
“I’ll take Brooks Koepka and also my good friend Justin Thomas,” Spieth says, then turns to Michael Greller. “Mike, it was a tough call between you and Brooks, but I’ll have you on the com the entire time.”
“Give me Billy Horschel and Tony Finau,” Rickie Fowler says. “We’re going to be wearing pastel camos, kicking ass and taking names.”
“Wow man, thank you,” Finau says. “I can’t believe I made this team.”
Fowler gives him a fist bump. “Of course man. If we’re going to be carrying explosives, figured we need a true #BombThreat,” Folwer says. “Plus, if you think I was going to be the only non-Caucasian dude on this mission, you’re crazy. This ain’t the damn 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek, bro.”
“I can’t believe I didn’t get picked,” Keegan Bradley mumbles to Jason Dufner as people are high fiving around the pool. “How could Phil do that to me?”
“Yeah, it sucks bro,” Dufner says. “But to be honest, on a mission like that, you can’t be backing off, waggling around, twitching and mumbling to yourself for 10 minutes. You see a shot, you can’t hesitate. It’s not our time, man.”
Mickelson taps a 64 degree wedge against his wine glass, quelling the noise of the party.
“Ok, we’ve got ourselves a team. Now let’s go snatch somebody’s Bae,” he says.
Bae is pictured in a montage, breaking open old range balls for eight hours a day with a rusty Mack Daddy wedge. As the night approaches, he is sent back to his cage, where the scene ends with him daydreaming about his PGA Tour days while sitting quietly in the darkness of his 3×6 cell.
Bae is still wide awake, laying on his back, practicing his club twirl, when a window slowly creaks open.
“Who’s there!?” he nervously calls out into the blackness.
After a brief silence, Bae hears the sound he’s been waiting to hear for so long.
Patrick Reed emerges from the darkness.
“Let’s get you out of here.”
Reed leads Bae out the window, where he rejoins the elite American team of SEALS (Secret Emancipating Asian Liberation Squad) that parachuted onto the military base. Bae quickly sees the familiar faces of Spieth, Koepka, Thomas, Fowler, Finau, and Joe Flacco, and is comforted knowing he is in the company of such an elite group.
The faint sound of a helicopter appears on the horizon, and as the sound approaches, Reed shouts into Bae’s ear:
“He spotted your best team two holes, and he still came back to save your ass.”
Mickelson lowers the chopper to the ground, and the team piles in. Bae is lifted up and seated as Koepka, Spieth, and Thomas secure the area. The squad is almost ready to move out, when there is noise heard from inside where Bae was previously being held. Spieth is too close to the chopper to hear the noise, but Thomas hears it. Out comes a screaming security guard with a 3 iron that was extracted from Bae’s cell which had been sharpened into a knife like blade from Bae slamming balls off concrete. The guard launches the 3 iron in Spieth’s direction, just as the youngster is about to pan in the direction of the officer. Thomas sees the whole thing, and takes off in a dead sprint circa Tiger at the 2000 PGA, and dives in front of the airborne 3-iron, taking it directly to the chest.
Koepka mows down the security officer immediately, despite this somehow being his first time ever in South Korea. Spieth is in shock. He holds Thomas in his arms, as life quickly vanishes from his eyes.
“I will never forget you giving your life for mine, Jordan Spieth’s Good Buddy,” Spieth says as he runs his hands over Thomas’ face, closing his lifeless eyes.
Koepka pulls Spieth into the helicopter, and as they’re taking off, Reed pulls the pin on a grenade (Phil gives the thumbs up on the notion of pulling a pin), and cocks his arm to throw it and blow up the whole scene below.
“Patrick!” Spieth screams above the blades of the chopper, “They’re our allies. We just disagree on mandatory military service!”
Reed pauses for a second, then turns and looks at Spieth.
“I’ve got enough friends,” Reed shouts, flipping the grenade over his shoulder, never turning around to watch the massive explosion on the ground below.