Tiger Woods‘ first Masters win since 2005 brought this ancillary benefit: he would make the 2020 Olympic golf field if chosen today.
Woods improved from seventh alternate for the U.S. two weeks ago to the No. 2 American behind Dustin Johnson in Olympic qualifying, according to golf rankings guru Nosferatu on Twitter. All thanks to his 15th major title at the biggest tournament thus far in Olympic qualifying, which runs through the 2020 U.S. Open.
Woods was in the provisional Olympic golf field after the first week of qualifying last summer but dropped out as others accumulated PGA Tour wins. Now, he’s just ahead of Xander Schauffele and Matt Kuchar, who would also make today’s Olympic golf field, according to Nosferatu.
The Official World Golf Ranking on the June 22, 2020 Olympic cutoff will look different, given the most weight is given to recent, major events. It’s paramount for Americans to perform at a top-10 level in the 2020 PGA Tour season given the nation’s depth.
Example: Brooks Koepka, who won the 2018 U.S. Open and PGA Championship, is ranked third in the world right now but not among the top four Americans in the projected June 22, 2020 rankings. Thus, he would not make the Tokyo Olympic golf field if chosen today.
It may also be paramount for Woods to play more events to boost his ranking. At age 43, after all his health issues, would the Olympics be important enough to Woods to change his schedule?
In 2015, Woods said qualifying for the first Olympic golf tournament in 112 years in Rio was “very important.” September 2015 back surgery ended that Olympic bid, however.
In Rio, only three male golfers from the field of 60 were older than Woods will be come July 2020 — Thongchai Jaidee, Alex Cejka and Padraig Harrington. None of those men had to be ranked in the world top 15 to make their nations’ teams. That’s a necessary floor for a U.S. man.
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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