'The one thing he told me was to make sure I was always part of the conversation,' Woods said.
The conversation is crowded headed into the British Open.
How does Woods respond to missing the cut for the first time in a major? How long will Phil Mickelson be haunted by memories of his unseemly collapse at the U.S. Open that kept him from the threshold of the Grand Slam?
And has anyone heard from Ernie Els lately?
Woods is the defending champion, although that might not carry much weight at Royal Liverpool, which is steeped in as much mystery as history. It will be the first time the Hoylake links has hosted the British Open since 1967, before nine of the top 10 players in the world were born.
Woods, who has never even seen pictures of the place, is somewhat of an enigma himself this year.
He looked unbeatable at the start of the year, winning playoffs at Torrey Pines and Dubai in consecutive weeks, and holding off a strong field at Doral. But the death of his father led to a nine-week layoff after the Masters, and Woods is trying to regain sharpness.
He has played only 10 tournaments this year; the fewest he ever had played before the British Open was 13.
'This year has just been a difficult and different year. That's just the way it is,' Woods said before the Western Open, where he tied for second. 'But from here to the rest of the year, I'm playing in quite a few events, so I'll be back in the swing of
Jim Furyk had to sit out four months in 2004 with wrist surgery, making his return at the U.S. Open. He knows what it takes to get tournament sharp, and he knows plenty about Woods' game.
'The best way to get your game sharp is to be under competitive pressure,' Furyk said. 'I understand it's tough to come back from a layoff, and I suspect that very shortly his game will be back in very good form.'
Mickelson tried to get back on his bike quickly.
Having won the PGA Championship last August and the Masters in April, he was on the verge of joining Woods as the only players in the last 50 years to win three consecutive majors. He had a two-shot lead with three holes to play, and still had one shot to spare on the 18th tee, until perhaps the biggest blunder of his career.
Starting with a wild drive, it took him five shots just to reach the green, giving him a double bogey and his first blown major.
Mickelson was at Hoylake a week later, anxious to put his follies behind him.
'I've got two more (majors) this year,' Mickelson said. 'I'm playing too well, and I've got a system of preparation that has been helping me play some of my best golf. And right now, I'm excited about the chances at Hoylake.'
In his first tournament back, Mickelson opened with a 67 and then failed to break par the rest of the week at the Western. But a regular PGA Tour event is no place to judge the magnitude of a hangover, and the British Open might not be a true measure, either.
Mickelson has only one top 10 in golf's oldest championship, that one coming in 2004 when he was dominant in the majors, finishing a combined five shots out of the lead.
How well Mickelson is playing is up for debate.
He made it look easy at the Masters. He wasn't playing his best at Winged Foot, but seized control on knowledge and sheer determination. Even so, Mickelson only has put together two great weeks, winning at the BellSouth Classic by 13 shots and at Augusta National by two. He is pouring everything into the majors, even taking the week off before the British Open, which is rare for him.
'The great champions ... all have to have one thing in common. They have the ability to rebound,' said Rick Smith, the swing coach for Mickelson.
At least Woods and Mickelson can fall back on trophies.
They are Nos. 1 and 2 in the world by a margin that is slowly setting them apart from the rest of the field. The rest of the Big Five are sliding, and Els now has fallen to No. 8.
The Big Easy, like Mickelson, went to Hoylake a few weeks before the British Open to get familiar with the links course that features relatively flat greens, a comparatively small number of bunkers and 10 holes that have out-of-bounds.
But the frustration is setting in. When he was driving the ball well, his irons were off. When he was hitting his irons pure, his driving was off. And now that he has his driving and iron play in good order, he can't make a putt.
Els has gone 15 majors without winning, the longest streak among that elite group of Woods, Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen.
'We all know golf can be a funny game -- unpredictable, too,' Els said. 'You only need one good round and you can be right back where you want to be, playing your best golf again. Like all sports, it's a lot to do with confidence.'
Singh had gone 10 months without a victory until winning the Barclays Classic and is emerging as a factor again. He lurked around the lead all week at Winged Foot, then lost a 54-hole lead at the Western Open.
Combined, this has created a sprint to the finish for season-ending awards.
The British Open also presents an excellent chance for Europeans to end their drought in the majors -- 27 straight without a victory, the longest since they went 36 majors without winning until Seve Ballesteros won the claret jug at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 1979.
And it will go a long way toward determining both sides in the Ryder Cup.
Majors are worth double points for the Americans, with a whopping 675 points going to the winner. Five of the 10 players in the U.S. standings never have competed in the Ryder Cup, and veterans such as Davis Love III (No. 11) and Fred Couples are in need of a strong week.
It all unfolds at Royal Liverpool, a mainstay on the British Open rotation until 1967, when the Royal & Ancient realized it had a big event that needed more space for viewing and corporate chalets.
'It's difficult to believe that almost 40 years has passed since an Open championship was last played at Hoylake,' said Nicklaus, the runner-up to Roberto De Vicenzo in 1967. 'I think it's good for the game of golf to see it return.'
Indeed, this British Open is about the return of Royal Liverpool.
Starting Thursday, it might be about the return of Woods, Mickelson, Els or someone else looking to rebound.