At first light Tuesday, Tiger Woods struck his first tee shot of the day, a towering drive on the ninth hole on the South Course at Torrey Pines.
Woods loves to be first off for practice rounds, reveling in the seclusion, and never tires of playing this seaside golf resort, where he has won seven times as a professional, including the 2008 U.S. Open.
But as he begins his 18th season on the PGA Tour on Thursday in the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open, the man who has won 74 Tour titles and 14 major championships might have something to prove.
He did, after all, play mediocre golf last week in Abu Dhabi, where he missed the cut after taking a two-stroke penalty in the second round.
Woods isn't much worried about that. He's back on familiar turf, where he has averaged 68.62 strokes per round in this tournament. In 47 career rounds, he has been under par 40 times and over par four times.
"I feel comfortable here," Woods said Tuesday at his news conference. "There are a few courses like that. Here, Firestone, Augusta. I just feel comfortable on those venues."
One question asked was in response to comments Sunday from Phil Mickelson, who complained about taxes in California and talked about making "drastic changes," perhaps even leaving the state.
"I moved out of here in '96, for that reason," Woods said. "I understand, I think, what he was trying to say."
Mickelson issued a statement of apology late Monday for airing his opinions so publicly. "Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public," he said in the statement. "I apologize to those I have upset or insulted and assure you I intend to not let it happen again.
"Right now, I'm like many Americans who are trying to understand the new tax laws. I've been learning a lot over the last few months and talking with people who are trying to help me make intelligent and informed decisions. I certainly don't have a definitive plan at this time, but like everyone else I want to make decisions that are best for my future and my family."
PGA Show: The PGA Merchandise Show, which hosts 41,000 golf industry professionals and more than 1,100 golf-related brands and products from all over the world, begins today with the Demo Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.
The event focuses on every aspect of golf including retail, operations, clubhouse utilization, course maintenance, clubhouse maintenance, financing, marketing, training and employment opportunities.
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