Tiger eyes Tokyo opportunity

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick July 10, 2019 16:02

Tiger Woods has achieved most things in golf – and a whole lot more.

Before he turned professional in the summer of 1996, he became the first golfer to win the prestigious US Amateur Championship three years in a row. And he remains the sole person to achieve this incredibly difficult feat after more than 120 years of competition.

Since joining the PGA Tour 23 years ago, he has won The Masters five times, PGA Championship four, as well as the Opens of both the United States and Great Britain three times each.

He has triumphed more than 80 times on the PGA Tour and, according to Forbes, his current net worth is in excess of 80 million dollars.

So what’s left for him to accomplish? According to Tiger himself, he would love to represent the United States at an Olympic Games.

And bearing in mind he will turn 44 later this year, this probably means he will have one opportunity only – in 2020 – to satisfy his needs.

When asked recently whether he was interested in competing at next year’s Games in Japan, Woods replied: “Yes, that would be a first for me and something that I would certainly welcome if I was part of the team.”

There are two reasons why Tiger has never featured at an Olympics.

First, following a gap of 112 years, golf only returned to the Games’ rota at Rio in 2016.

And second, when this event took place almost three years ago, he was ranked outside the world’s top 600.

In fact, due to injury, Woods did not play in a single tournament between August 2015 and December of the following year.

But now he is raring to go, and would love nothing more than teeing-up in Tokyo next July.

However, such are the strict qualifying rules agreed by the IOC (International Olympic Committee), there is no guarantee he will be there.

This all depends on his position within the World Ranking next summer and how many of his fellow Americans are above him.

The field size for the Olympics is just 60, with any player inside the top 15 invited to compete – although no more than four golfers from any one country are permitted.

And that basically is the problem if you happen to be American. At the conclusion of the recent PGA Championship, there were nine US golfers inside the world’s top 15, but only four are allowed to play in the Games.

Outside the top 15, there is a maximum of two players per country, with the host nation guaranteed at least one spot.

Despite being as high as number six in the world in mid-May, Tiger is still only the fourth best American in the list. So he will need to remain competitive over the next 12 months to remain there.

Bookmakers Paddy Power certainly believe Tiger will continue to prosper this year, with odds of 7/4 to be ranked number one by the end of the year, and therefore stand a great chance of being on the plane for Japan in 2020.

The conundrum Tiger faces is to play enough tournaments, in order to collect a sufficient number of points, to remain high in the World Ranking.

Because of his many injuries, which have taken a considerable toll on his body, Tiger has to pick and choose his events carefully,

So gathering a suitable amount of points to qualify for the Games could be his downfall, in his battle to tee-up in the opening round at Kasumigaseki Country Club on July 30, 2020.

Perhaps he will need to win a 16th major championship during the next 12 months to achieve his dream of competing at an Olympics.

 

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick July 10, 2019 16:02
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