Thus far, Tiger Woods‘ Olympic history has pretty much been limited to a Buick commercial.
Could Woods qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games at age 44? Well, he’s provisionally in the Olympic field after the first week of qualifying.
By tying for fourth at the Quicken Loans National on Sunday, Woods is ranked among the top four U.S. golfers (and top 15 in the world) in the Olympic qualification rankings, barely, according to world ranking specialist Nosferatu.
The Olympic field of 60 men will be taken from the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) on June 22, 2020. The events that will go into the rankings on that date started with last week’s tournaments, USA Golf confirmed Monday.
By June 2020, Woods’ result at the 2018 Quicken Loans National will have a miniscule effect on his ranking. But for now that’s the only PGA Tour event completed in the Olympic ranking window, so he’s technically in (the very, very early) provisional Olympic golf field.
Woods was never close to qualifying for the Rio Games, due in no small part to his back problems. In Rio, only four male golfers were older than Woods will be come July 2020 — Thongchai Jaidee, Alex Cejka and Padraig Harrington.
Woods faces a much more daunting path to Olympic qualification than Thailand’s Jaidee, Germany’s Cejka and Ireland’s Harrington.
With Americans currently dominating men’s golf, Woods will almost surely need to be ranked in the top 15 in the world in June 2020 and probably the top 10 to get one of up to four U.S. spots in Tokyo.
Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson make up seven of the top 12 men in the world right now, counting results from the last two years. At least three of them won’t be going to Tokyo.
Woods is currently No. 67, his best since February 2015, but there’s still plenty of work ahead to make the Games.
A month before the Rio Games, Woods said he would prefer if the top 50 in the world automatically made the Olympic field.
“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 [Championship],” Woods said then. “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.”
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