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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

Tokyo 2020 #1YearToGo

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Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have both expressed their desire to make their Olympic debuts at Tokyo 2020.

Woods, who ended an 11-year major title drought by winning a fifth Masters crown at Augusta National last month, missed golf’s return to the Olympic programme at Rio 2016 due to injury.

Northern Irishman McIlroy, meanwhile, declared he would play for Ireland at Rio 2016 before citing concerns over the Zika virus as a reason for pulling out.

Speaking prior to the United States Professional Golfers' Association Championship at the Bethpage Black Course on Long Island in New York, where action begins today, 15-time major champion Woods claimed he would definitely like to play for the US at Tokyo 2020.

"I've never played in the Olympics," he said.

"I am sure that I won't have many more opportunities going forward at 43-years-old now to play in many Olympics.

"So, yes, that would be a first for me and something that I would certainly welcome if I was part of the team."

The Olympic qualification period began on July 1, 2018 and ends on June 22, 2020.

Woods is currently the fourth-ranked American on the Olympic golf rankings list - behind Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas - and is sixth overall.

The maximum number of players a country or region can qualify to the Olympic tournament is four.

It is only possible to qualify that many if all the players are ranked within the top-15, otherwise a maximum of two players from each nation can play in each event.

"Getting there and making the team is going to be the tough part," Woods added.

"How many events do I play? Do I add a couple more to get in?

"These are all questions that will be answered going forward."

Four-time major winner McIlroy’s announcement that he hopes to qualify to represent Ireland at Tokyo 2020 comes just two years after he said he resented the Olympics and felt no connection to either the British or the Irish flag.

In a remarkable u-turn, he said: "I'm excited to be going to the Olympics and I'm excited to play for Ireland."

"I think as a young boy it was always my dream to play for Ireland.

"It's the same as the rugby players - there's players that play for Ulster but they want to play for Ireland, because it's seen as a whole island sport.

"So, when you put the Olympics into the equation and there's a choice to be made, you really have to start thinking about your values and your beliefs.

"You have to delve a bit deeper.

"It's not just a superficial decision.

"It's something that you have to really believe in.

"I've thought about that for a long time, and in the end it came down to when I was a little boy and I got that first call up to the Ireland national squad.

"So, it's going to be a great experience and probably a bit nostalgic because it will take me back.

"It's going to be cool."

Current world number two Justin Rose won the men's gold medal for Great Britain at Rio 2016.

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson was the silver medallist, while the US’s Matt Kuchar took the bronze.

The Tokyo 2020 tournament is due to take place at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe City in Saitama.

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