Tiger Woods is setting his sights on next year’s Olympic games, driven on by the knowledge that he may not get many more chances to add a gold medal to his bulging trophy cabinet.
The 43-year-old former world number one is hunting a 16th major at this week’s US Open at Pebble Beach, two months after crowning his comeback from injury with victory at the Masters.
But Woods acknowledged on Tuesday that he is excited by the possibility of challenging for Olympic honours at Tokyo 2020, where golf will be a medal sport once more after a successful return in 2016.
“Olympic gold medal would be a hell of a feat,” Woods said. “First I need to qualify. It would be exciting if I got a chance to represent the United States in the Olympic Games.”
Woods was battling back injuries at the time of the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, and was never in contention for earning an Olympic berth.
For the 2020 Olympics, qualification will be based on the world rankings, with the top 15 players in the rankings assured of a berth, with a limit of four golfers per country. A total of 60 players will play in the men’s event.
On current standings, world number five Woods would claim one of the four USA spots as the third highest ranked American player.
Woods, who has to carefully manage his fitness and playing load following multiple back surgeries, said Tokyo may be his best realistic chance of playing in an Olympics. He would be 48 by the time of the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
“I don’t know how many more times I get a run at it,” Woods said.
“Next time I’ll be 48. I don’t have that many chances of playing for the United States in the Olympics. So it will certainly be an honor if I were able to represent the United States.”