COMMENTARY | Though his health has been in question in recent years, it was the fitness of Tiger Woods that allowed him to overcome a shaky start and put himself back into contention at the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club.
The Southern California native and current Florida resident dealt with a heat index of 107 degrees and managed a 3-under 68 on Friday to move to 2-under for the tournament through two rounds. He was clearly comfortable and undaunted by the severe temperatures, which dominated the tournament talk as much as the difficulty of the course and supreme play of the leaders.
Moving into the weekend, Woods will have confidence and knowledge that some of his competitors may not be as prepared as he is to deal with the extreme heat wave that will continue to plague the Washington D.C. area.
Even though he's had success at this difficult test before, the sports world still needs to see a major championship victory from the current world No. 4 to consider him back to form. Without it, he's just another standout PGA TOUR player.
That's the standard that he set for himself over the stretch of a legendary career that includes 72 professional victories. It's a standard that he'll have to live up to in order to get his most stalwart critics to believe in him once again.
At age 36, his dedication to fitness could be exactly what allows him to remain competitive for many more years to come. Though he has had significant knee issues that stemmed from his rigorous workout regimen, that same commitment to staying in shape could bring his ultimate goal of surpassing jack Nicklaus' 18 professional majors within reach.
Woods is at the forefront of a generation that has placed a premium on athleticism in golf -- gone are the days of the best players in the world looking like they just got done scarfing down a hot dog and a six pack of beer at the local municipal course. Players like Woods and those who grew up watching and emulating his every move are now elite athletes.
Whether or not Woods' fitness translates into a win at Congressional will be worth following through the weekend.
It's a pretty good golf tournament, too.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the PGA TOUR. He has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com. For more insight, follow him on Twitter.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tiger Woods
- Congressional Country Club