Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 May 2019

Tiger Woods reveals Olympic ambition ahead of 2019 PGA Championship

US Masters champion shrugs off his four-week absence and insists rest was most important in preparing for the second major of the season

Tiger Woods speaks to the media ahead of the US PGA Championship. EPA
Tiger Woods speaks to the media ahead of the US PGA Championship. EPA

Tiger Woods has said he is "rested and ready" to make his assault on a 16th major title at the US PGA Championship this week, despite not competing since his remarkable victory at the US Masters.

Woods, 43, ended an 11-year wait for his most recent major championship in April when he won at Augusta National for the fifth time, which after years of back and knee surgeries and personal problems, was nothing short of miraculous.

The American former world No 1 has not competed since then, though, but he insists a lack of competitive action won't be a hindrance when he tees off at Bethpage Black Course on Thursday.

"I wanted to play at Quail Hollow but to be honest I wasn’t ready yet to start the grind of practicing, preparing and logging all those hours again," Woods told a press conference I was feeling good in the gym but I was mentally ready to log in the hours.

“Coming here is a different story: I was able to log in the hours, put in the time, I feel rested and ready."

Woods' years of relentless and unprecedented success have taken a toll on his body, with spinal fusion surgery in 2017 considered the last throw of the dice to salvage his career.

Fortunately for Woods it worked, but key to his longevity will depend on how selective he is with his schedule.

“That’s going to be the interesting part going forward: how much do I play and how much do I rest? I think I’ve done a lot of the hard work already, trying to find my game over the past year and a half," said Woods, who is grouped with defending champion Brooks Koepka and British Open winner Francesco Molinaro for the first two rounds.

"Now it’s just about maintaining it. I know that I feel better when I’m fresh – the body doesn’t respond like it used to, it doesn’t bounce back quite as well and I’ve got to be aware of that."

If Woods continues to play at the level shown so far since his most recent return - he ended last season by winning the Tour Championship - then he could be in line to compete for one of the few titles he is yet to own: Olympic gold.

But would a player who has won all of golf's biggest titles and is carefully managing his schedule even be interested in qualifying for the 2020 Games in Tokyo?

"I’ve never played in the Olympics and I won't have too many more opportunities going forward so yes that would be a first for me and something I would welcome if I was part of the team," he said.

"Getting there and making the team is going to be the tough part. I know that if I play well in the big events, things will take care of themselves.”

Updated: May 14, 2019 09:04 PM

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