Tiger Woods won’t be competing in golf’s return to the Olympics at the Rio Games, or in any golf tournament until his ailing back allows him to get in shape. But he’s in Maryland this week for the PGA Tour’s Quicken Loans National, a tournament that benefits his Tiger Woods Foundation.
The former world No. 1 was asked Wednesday about the upcoming Rio Olympics, and he said he wished the International Golf Federation would have implemented a better format.
“It’ll be a spectacular event just because it’s the Olympics,” Woods said during a press conference. “It would be better if we had, I guess, a more top-heavy field. For me personally, I wish that they would have gone with, let’s say, the top 50 guys in the world.”
Sixty men and 60 women will compete in Rio’s golf tournament. The top 15 players in the world golf rankings are eligible, as long as there are no more than four players from one country. The next-highest ranked players outside the top 15 are eligible as long as no more than two players come from one country.
Qualifying for Rio concludes July 11. Here are the men’s rankings as they stand now.
“I just wish they would have had more quality of a field, similar to what we face in major championships, or the world golf championships, or the Players,” Woods said. “We have these top-heavy fields and I think the Olympics really deserve that.
“But I understand they’re trying to promote the game of golf and give more participants a chance to be part of the Olympic experience and be a part of golf. And try to get more of these countries that have not traditionally been part of golf to be a part of it, and for them to grow, Brazil being one of them. To have two players that aren’t ranked very high but will still be able to compete in the Olympics, I think it’s great for the country of Brazil.”
Golf was voted into the Olympics in 2009, when Woods was still the No. 1 player in the world. He was the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year and leading money winner that year, before injuries began piling up. He returned to form in 2013, when was again the Player of the Year and leading money winner, but various injuries – most notably to his back – have since derailed his legendary career.
Now 40 years old, Woods is ranked No. 582 in the world. He hasn’t competed in 10 months.
Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler are currently the top four American men.