Tuesday afternoon a refreshed-looking Woods, just days shy of his 31st birthday, thoroughly engaged a press gathering at Sherwood Country Club where he will host his own Target World Challenge that begins Thursday.
Woods didnt hesitate when asked which year was the better one'2000 or 2006. In 2000 he won nine times and captured three majors. In 2006 he triumphed twice in major championships and finished the season with six straight official PGA TOUR victories.
No doubt about it, Woods said. As far as hitting the ball, 2006 was probably even better. In 2000 I had virtually no three putts the entire year.
There was nothing boastful about any of this. Not a whiff of false modesty. This was an interesting subject answering questions he genuinely sounded interested in addressing.
When the subject of privacy arose, he freely conceded that the public respects my privacy a lot more.
Why is that?
Maybe, he suggested, theyre not as curious about his private life. Pretty much everythings been written about me, he said.
Woods repeated his standard line about goals, saying his aim is to finish every year a better player in December than the one who started out in January.
If the answer is yes, each and every year, he said, great career.
And yes, he said, when asked, the answer has been yes at the end of every year since he turned professional in 1996.
Great career, indeed.
Inner peace, too.
I certainly have a lot more tranquility in my life, he said. He cited his wife, Elin, his foundation and the state of his game as reasons why.
And he talked about this time last year when his father was dying. Earl Woods, the ex-Green Beret, fought the good fight. But Tiger says now he didnt even know it was Christmas when Christmas day arrived because he was staying up with his father.
Earl Woods loved Christmas, Tiger said, because his beloved Lakers were always on television. Earl Woods died earlier this year.
No course at Stanford can prepare you for this, the bumps and the curves, Woods said.
He adroitly dodged the only real opportunity Tuesday to make news when asked if he planned to play in the Mercedes-Benz Championships next month. He knows the media wants to know so it can start pounding the public drums for a seventh straight win.
Tiger said he hasnt decided. Hes going skiing soon. Then he will make up his mind. For what its worth, sources say he will play at Kapalua.
The thing that excites him the most about golf right now is perhaps the best indicator of the wisdom he is acquiring. You never get there, he said. You can always get better.
And that, said Tiger Woods with a smile Tuesday in California, is what makes golf so great.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt