“I’m out there pumping 8-irons 135 yards and that’s all I had; that [being outdistanced by Cook] was frustrating there for a little while,” Woods said.”But I have turned things around and I’ve got my numbers back. This week, especially, since it’s going to be warm all week, I won’t have any problems staying loose.”

Just as Jordan went to his fadeaway more than trying to dunk over the opposition, just as Griffey stopped running into outfield walls in order to make game-saving catches, Woods knows he’s not going to overpower golf courses or intimidate the competition by outdriving everyone not named John Daly.

“I feel old,” Woods said with a smile. “The Chinese kid who qualified for the Masters last year, he was born after I won the tournament. That’s just not cool, you know. That’s what’s coming, the next generation. They are taller, bigger, they are more physical, just like in all sports across the board.

“You look at these kids in college…they are just big guys and they can move it [the ball] out there. The difference is as you age and as I’ve aged, I can’t play the way I used to. I was No. 2 in driving distance for a number of years. Now if you average over 300 yards, I don’t know if you’re in the top 10.”

One advantage Woods has now is patience.

Having two young children has helped in that regard.

“I think with that old adage, with age comes wisdom, and I have certainly become much more patient,” Woods said. “It has carried over into my golf game on the course as well as of. I just remember all the early years on tour when I used to run 30 miles a week and just push it, no matter how hurt I was.

“I was winning, but I didn’t realize how much damage I was doing to my body at the time. I have to now pick my spots when I can and can’t push. Before, when you’re young, I just pushed all the time. But now I’ve got to listen to my body, listen to my therapist and get treatment.”

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56