Golf returns to the Olympics in 2016, and when it does, Tiger Woods definitely wouldn't mind being there.
Sure, he'll be 40 — think about that for a second — the next time we see the Games, but Woods as much as anyone belongs on a world stage like the Olympics. Yes, he's a professional, but so are Roger Federer, LeBron James and (let's not fool ourselves) all of the athletes who devote years of their lives to the pursuit of their chosen sport. Question is, will Woods be a part of the American delegation?
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"I've got to qualify first," he said at a press conference this week. "If I get in, it would be great." And therein lies the big question: Are the Olympics coming along too late in Woods' career for him to participate?
The answer to that question lies in the vagaries of the Olympic golf format. Will the United States send a delegation decided by committee, as with the basketball team? If so, nobody would begrudge Woods a spot on that team. But if qualification on ability is necessary, as with the swimming team, a 40-year-old Woods would be in for a tough fight against, say, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Patrick Cantlay, and so on.
Plus, there's the matter of scheduling. As noted before, the Olympics complicates three months' worth of significant golf events, including three of the four majors. "I don't know how it's going to be scheduling-wise," Woods said. "We have seven big events right now in this stretch, and we're adding an eighth. It's going to be a very, very busy summer for us as golfers. But it's also the Olympics, and it is a very big event and something that we haven't historically been involved in."
And that right there is the reason why Woods would love to participate, the triumph of being first. Nobody living on the planet right now (OK, maybe one or two centenarians) was around to see golf's last run at the Olympics, back in 1904. To be the first to win a gold in a new event? That'd be the perfect capper to a career. And by then, we'll have a better idea of if Woods is going to catch Jack Nicklaus and his majors record.
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Of course, NBC will figure a way to keep it on tape delay, so we'll find out the details around 2018.
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