Tiger Woods is prepping for a big week in Japan — and he’s already planning his return.
Woods told Reuters that he has the 2020 Tokyo Olympics circled on his calendar. There’s not much the 15-time major champion hasn’t accomplished in his career, but representing the U.S. at the Olympic Games is a bucket-list item that remains unchecked. (In fairness, he’s only had one chance. Golf returned to the Olympics in 2016 after a 112-year absence.)
Woods, who called the Olympic team a “big goal,” also made it clear that he thinks this may be his final shot. “I don’t see myself having too many opportunities other than next year. Four years from now, at the next Olympic Games, I’ll be 48 years old. To be one of the top Americans at that age is going to be tough.”
Sixty players will qualify for the men’s and women’s Olympic tournaments, based on world rankings as of June 22, 2020. The top 15 players in the world automatically qualify, with an important limit: no more than four players per country. The rest of the field will be filled by the highest-ranked players from countries that do not already have two golfers qualified.
While Woods will certainly be in the top 60 and has a good chance at hanging inside the top 15, he’ll have a harder time hanging among the top four Americans; there’s an entire new generation of U.S. players gunning for those spots.
“The interesting thing about now is that when I was out, there was a whole generation of guys that I didn’t really compete against.
“Whether it was Jordan [Spieth], JT [Justin Thomas], Bryson [DeChambeau] or Patrick [Reed or Cantlay], these guys were just coming out and I missed that.
“Now they’re established and I’m coming back into the game, so it’s been fun to compete against those guys, not to mention some of the older guys.”
At the moment, Woods is ranked No. 9 in the world but has five countrymen ahead of him. Still, that won’t stop him from trying, especially since the Olympic Games have a special place in his heart.
“I went to my first Olympic Games when it was in Los Angeles,” Woods said, referring to the 1984 Games he attended as an eight-year-old. “So now to have the opportunity to be a part of the Olympics, because golf in my lifetime wasn’t a part of the Olympics, is an important aspect for us and the growth of the game. The game has become so global, and so reaching, that I think the Olympic Games is a great extension of that and I’d like to be a part of it.”
Woods will return to competition Monday at the Japan Skins Challenge, where he’ll take on Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama. Thursday he’ll make his 2019-2020 PGA Tour debut in the first-ever Zozo Championship.
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