Tiger Woods has accomplished pretty much all there is to accomplish in golf, with 15 major titles, vast riches and worldwide fame. Everything, that is, except an Olympic medal, but he hopes to change that next year at the Tokyo Summer Games.
"Making the Olympic team is a big goal," Woods told Reuters in a story published Friday. "I don't see myself having too many opportunities other than next year."
Golf returned to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years at the 2016 Rio Games and was viewed as a success, both in terms of on-course drama (Justin Rose edged Henrik Stenson for the men's gold medal after both were tied entering the final hole of the four-round stroke-play tournament, while Matt Kuchar shot a final-round 63 to earn bronze) and in terms of U.S. television ratings (more people watched the final round on NBC than watched the final round of that year's U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship).
The players, many of whom stayed in the Olympic Village, also seemed to enjoy playing for their countries instead of prize money and FedEx Cup points.
"To be honest, this is where all the players wanted to be," Rose said after receiving his gold medal. "There's no money. There's not much else to play for, really, other than right up here. And yet somehow the guys really enjoyed the whole Olympic experience. I think that says it all."
Woods missed the Olympics - and the entire PGA Tour season - in 2016 as he recovered from back surgeries, but he returned in full in 2018 and has since added to his resume with wins at that year's Tour Championship and this year's Masters.
"I went to my first Olympic Games when it was in Los Angeles" in 1984, Woods said. "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."
The Olympic men's and women's tournaments feature fields of 60 golfers, with qualification based on the Official World Golf Rankings for men (as of June 22, 2020) and the Women's World Golf Rankings (as of June 29). The top 15 golfers in each qualify automatically, though countries are limited to four golfers who can qualify this way. After that, the remaining spots go to the highest-ranked players from countries that do not already have two golfers qualified, with a limit of two per country.
Woods currently sits ninth in the world golf rankings, behind five other Americans.
The tournament will be held at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, about an hour northwest of Tokyo.
Woods will play in two events in Japan next week, a skins competition with Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama that begins at midnight Eastern on Monday and then the Zoso Championship, a new tournament that's part of the PGA Tour's inaugural three-tournament Asia swing.