Golf

Blow for Tiger Woods, Park Inbee as Olympic qualifying stays unchanged

No changes are planned for the Olympic golf qualifying system, the International Golf Federation (IGF) which runs the event said after the sport shut down due to the coronavirus.

This could deal a hammer blow to the chances of Tiger Woods qualifying for Tokyo 2020, and for Park Inbee's hopes of being eligible to defend her title from Rio de Janeiro 2016.

Based on the current rankings, Woods (United States) and Park (South Korea) would not qualify for their teams.

However, scrambling the equation is that even if the Olympics go ahead, many golfers could opt out, much as they did in 2016 due to concerns over the zika virus.

Eligibility for the Tokyo 2020 men and women's events will be determined by world ranking points compiled over almost two years from July 1, 2018 until June 22 (men) and June 29 (women) this year.

The list essentially mirrors the world rankings in determining the 60-player fields, with a maximum of two players from any single country (four if inside the top 15).

But the halting of the professional tour schedules for an undetermined time frame will have winners and losers, because there will be little week-to-week changes in the rankings.

"The IGF is monitoring the challenges faced by our athletes to participate in events, which continues to change daily, and we currently believe that the system still remains fair to all athletes who are vying for qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games," said the IGF in an e-mail to Reuters.

Though Park is 11th on the overall women's world list, she is only the fifth-ranked Korean behind Ko Jin Young, Park Sung Hyun, Kim Sei Young and Lee Jeong Eun.

The LPGA Tour has cancelled three tournaments in Asia, and postponed three US tournaments that were scheduled over the next month.

An even bigger question from a global marketing aspect is what the PGA Tour shutdown, at least through next month's Masters, means to Woods' hopes.

He is sixth on the US list, behind Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed.

Woods, 44, has often stated his desire to play in what would likely be his only chance of being an Olympian, though he was unable to enter last week's Players Championship due to a stiff back.

He has played only twice this year. - REUTERS

Golf