Dubai - Tiger Woods believes that a focus on fitness and a tough physical
training regime will be one the most significant legacies he will leave on the
world of golf.
Speaking after firing a third round of 70 at the Dubai Desert Classic on
Saturday, the 38-year-old American said his own family background convinced him
of the need to be fit in order to win.
A child prodigy in southern California, Woods was introduced to golf before
the age of two by his athletic father Earl, a single-figure handicap amateur
golfer who had been one of the earliest African-American college baseball
players at Kansas State University.
Woods' arrival on the pro scene in 1996 brought him almost immediate success
and his muscular frame was in stark contrast to many of the silhouettes of top
golfers in those days as he recalled.
"Most golfers have been fat and out of shape and they don't treat it as
a sport," he said.
"I grew up running track and cross-country and playing baseball and if
you didn't train, you got your butt kicked.
"That's a big difference, growing up with other sporting backgrounds
where you have to train in order to compete and win.
"I just took the same philosophy and applied it to golf and had a
pretty good career so far."
Ironically, part of Woods' problems over the last few years have been the consequences
of the physical demands he places on his body hitting a golf ball.
His knees, back and wrists have all failed him recently and he complained at
the end of last year of feeling tired after a hectic schedule from the British
Open in July onwards.
But after a winter break, Woods said in Dubai that he started the year fully
fit and ready to continue his chase after the 18 majors record haul of Jack
Nicklaus. He is currently four short.