Woods later walked across a green when he spotted a friend from junior golf, Gilberto Morales. After a warm embrace they spent the next 15 minutes catching up between shots. Woods also posed for pictures, signed autographs and did a TV interview Wednesday, the day before the start of the Buick Open.
The last time he was in the public eye, the scene was dramatically different.
'I remember being in Stevie's arms and crying like a baby and him pushing me away into my wife and just bawling there. I've never done that,' he said. 'It was the first time I've been in a golf tournament without Dad, either seeing me or being around physically, where I could call him.
'Those days are over. I'll never have that again.'
Woods said the timing of one of his regular stops - two weeks before the PGA Championship - couldn't be better.
'It works out perfect,' said Woods, playing the Buick Open for the eighth time. 'I got a chance to unwind for a few days, and then get back up and ready for this event.
'I have all next week to go home - well, maybe go home, hurricane might be blasting through again. I get to go somewhere and practice and get ready. I always find it nice to get ready in solitude and have my game where I want it when I go into a major championship.'
But before Woods heads for Medinah in suburban Chicago, where he won the 1999 PGA championship, he'd like to win his second Buick Open.
Buick, one of Woods' sponsors, announced it signed a four-year contract extension with Warwick Hills to keep the Buick Open here through 2010. The tournament will end July 1 next year, placing it between the U.S. and British Opens, instead of early August.
'I think it's still a good place on the schedule because guys will want to get a tournament in between those two majors,' Woods said before being whisked away in a Buick.
Vijay Singh will attempt to be the first to win three straight Buick Opens and four overall in a field that includes four of the top five players on the money list, with only Phil Mickelson missing.
'I have never won a tournament three times in a row,' said Singh, who has won once this year after claiming 13 victories the previous two years. 'So, the best incentive I have is my personal ego.'
Singh and Woods will be joined by Jim Furyk, U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, British Open runner-up Chris DiMarco and crowd favorite John Daly. Woods won the Buick Open in 2002 and Furyk did the next year.
After playing crusty and brown Royal Liverpool, lush fairways and greens at Warwick Hills welcome Woods and Co.
The players have to consistently birdie the four par 5s and the par-4 12th and 14th - just 340 and 322 yards long, respectively - to have a shot at winning. Singh has won the past two tournaments at 24 and 23 under.
'It's not a tricked-up golf course,' Woods said. 'It's right in front of you. Every year, the greens are always perfect. You hit good shots around the hole, you know the putts are going in. It's always a treat to play on greens that are this good.'
Woods only used his driver once at Hoylake, but will break it out regularly this week about 60 miles north of Detroit. On Nos. 13-14 in the pro-am, he sent tee shots long and straight down the fairway as Bettis shook his head in amazement.
Bettis, who retired after leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Super Bowl in his hometown of Detroit, said he never saw anything on a football field that impressed him as much as Woods did during their round.
'There's no equivalent,' said Bettis, a 16 handicap. 'It's a treat for me to watch him up close, to be honest with you, especially because he's also a great guy.'