Welcome to the Old Tiger. "I'm not 24 any more". Life changes, life moves on.
He doesn't have it this week, something he strongly hinted at before the tournament began and still tried to power through with a final rain-soaked practice session late Wednesday afternoon. Standing on the range hitting balls for four, five hours. Then he tried to hit a 230-yard shot into the green with a long iron only to clatter it into a bank and see it go 20 yards. Those days are gone, OK? I have to be realistic about my expectations and hopefully peaking at the right time. "Having that perspective might make me relax a little more".
He talks about how meaningful this weekend is to him and to his home country. "Just the way it is", he said.
Now all we can do is hope that this is just a bad weather matchup for his back and that the good times will come again in the future, just at a warm and humid event in the States. "It's just the way it's going to be".
"In many ways would you rather start with an 8 or finish with a 7?"
Woods started the day with the usual cheers and howls as he stepped up on the first tee. A kid in a tiger suit onesie smiled broadly as Woods headed for the second tee.
It would be a small victory on a day of big-picture defeats.
But instead the 2014 Open champion and victor of three more majors, inarguably Northern Ireland's most successful sporting son, doesn't feel anything but goodwill. He went to bed a dozen strokes off J.B. Duval said something about hitting two bad tee shots, and I thought, "Oh, so that's what happened", but this was sort of the preamble. Not even close. The par-5 seventh hole, one of the two additions to Royal Portrush, weaves between dunes with a stiff wind off the North Atlantic into the players. "Nervous because it's an Open Championship", he added. His provisional sailed left, too, into the deep rough.
It came after he made three bogeys on the front nine to turn at three over par.
When Woods made his first and only birdie at the 15th, he used humor to ease his misery. "They were all left", said Woods, wearing black rain trousers and a gray sweater on a day of wet and windy weather. But it's easier to manage the pain as a father than as a world-class athlete. Eastern. The cold might play a factor for the older Woods.
A return to Northern Ireland was ruled out for many years by "The Troubles" - a 30-year period of politically and religiously motivated violence.
Asked whether he would play Friday, Woods said, "I'll be there". He was set to receive treatment after the round and will basically wait and see if it helps or not.