Tiger Woods could still compete at his first Olympics ©Getty Images

Golf legend Tiger Woods could benefit from the freezing of the Olympic ranking and the postponement of Tokyo 2020 until next year, with the American currently out with a back injury.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the rankings were paused which currently leaves Woods as the seventh-best American on the list.

However, world number five Dustin Johnson has already said he will not compete at the Games, moved to next year because of COVID-19, leaving only two golfers between Woods and selection with four places from each country available.

In total 120 players will compete at the Games in 2021, with 60 men and 60 women able to qualify.

The top 15 men's and women's players will qualify outright, with the rest coming from the highest ranked players in nations who do not have two players already qualified.

If the rankings were to stop now, the US, Britain and Australia would not be eligible for any more qualified players due to this rule, with the latter two both having two players currently sitting in a qualification position.

Americans currently sitting in men's qualification places are Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay and Patrick Reed – all comfortably within the top 10 qualified names. 

World number 11 Woods, a 15-time major champion, trails world number nine Webb Simpson with Xander Schauffele and Bryson DeChambeau close behind, all with a chance of qualifying for the US.

It is not unheard of to qualify as a sixth-best American, with Matt Kuchar doing the same at Rio 2016 due to other injuries and going on to win the bronze medal.

Under the current Olympic golf rankings, Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Spain's John Rahm sit as world number one and two.

Two Australians, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman, and two Britons, Tommy Fleetwood and 2016 Olympic champion Justin Rose, all sit inside the top 10.

Woods, who did not play at Rio 2016 when golf returned to the Olympic programme for the first time since 1904, is being sued by a fan who claims his caddie Joe LaCava pushed and injured him, it was announced this week.

The alleged incident is said to have happened at the Valspar Championship two years ago.