SAN DIEGO—Tiger Woods returns to Torrey Pines for the first time since winning the 2008 U.S. Open and since his sex scandals and divorce.
Woods spoke for about 25 minutes Tuesday morning before playing in the Farmers Insurance Open Pro Am. He looked very relaxed and focused on moving forward while putting his unsavory recent history in the past.
"I obviously was consumed by other things in the last year and had to deal with that," Woods said. "Life goes on and life moves forward. That is what's most exciting about this year is having the proper perspective on things.
"My kids are doing great, and that's my number one priority. Golf falls somewhere down the list after that."
Woods mentioned his two children at least three times, as though trying to show that he has become a family man after his extra-marital affairs ended his marriage with Elin Nordegren and threw off his game last year.
Woods now says his life has balance.
"It's just that I need to be focused and put into a proper perspective," Woods said. "I went down a path I should never have gone, and now the determination is keeping my life in balance. That's where it's at.
"If my life's in balance throughout the course of my career, I've had good years."
2010 was not one of those years. He finished 68th on the money list and failed to win a PGA Tour event for the first time since joining the tour full time in 1996.
Now, he returns to San Diego for the first time since winning his last major, and he says Torrey Pines, where he has won seven titles (including the U.S. Open), holds a special place in his heart.
"It obviously goes way back for me," Woods said. "This was the first tournament that I ever watched at a PGA TOUR level. I played here as a junior. I came down here and played the south course when I was 7 or 8.
"Coming to this event means a lot to me."
Woods tees off Thursday at 9 am on the North Course with Rocco Mediate, the player he beat in an 18-hole playoff at the 2008 U.S. Open.
"I don't know how that computer did that,"Woods said. "It's kind of a surprise isn't it? Just randomly put us together.
"Rocco and I have obviously had a little bit of history here."
Woods talked about his last major victory quite a bit, including, the pain he suffered through during that week.
"It was stupid to play and go through that much pain," Woods said. "As I've told you guys after that, I kept re???breaking the leg. So I broke it more than what it was in the beginning of the week. I have a little bit of a hard???headed side to me."
Woods says he has no pain now which allowed him to worked with his new swing coach, Sean Foley, during the off-season and start off 2011 feeling fresh.
"I haven't had an off???season like this," Woods said. "It's always been trying to somehow get myself to start up again. This was nice to actually practice and build. It was something I haven't been able to do. That's been fun."
Once the world's dominant golfer, Woods has slipped to number 3 in the rankings. But his chief rival, San Diegan Phil Mickelson, believes Woods will bounce back.
"I expect that he'll be the Tiger that we've known for over a decade, unfortunately, "Mickelson said.
As for Mickelson, a three-time champion here, he says he feels really good about his game. He says he started practicing one week earlier than he had anticipated, and his goal this week is to shoot low numbers and be in contention on Sunday.
He also said that his health is good after getting diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis last year and added his wife, Amy, and his mother, Mary, who both have battled breast cancer, are doing well.