He calls staffers by their first names and chats with them before heading to the 1st tee. He says hello at the halfway house and goes on his way, like any other member instead of one of the most famous athletes in the world.
He enjoys the kind of golf test he has loved since childhood: a firm and fast course where the wind kicks up and Woods has to be creative to score well. A few Sundays ago he invited Rory McIlroy over for a 36-hole duel—Woods won the first 18, McIlroy the second—and Bubba Watson says they often play matches.
Woods plays as many as 45 holes in a day, and when he isn't at Medalist he practices at the short-game facility at his house. The kid who used to pound balls into a net in his parents' garage now hits full nine-irons in his backyard along Jupiter Sound.
But he does not cling to that cocoon the way he did. For years, when Woods played the annual Tour stop at Torrey Pines in San Diego, he would curtly say hello when the starter gave him his scorecard. Business. Fans standing a few feet away had no idea that Woods had known the starter, Tony Perez, for most of his life. Tony's son, PGA Tour player Pat Perez, competed against Woods as a child and remains a friend. On Sunday of this year's tournament, Woods took his card, smiled and hugged Tony.
"He just wrapped his arms around me and wouldn't let go," Perez says. "I told him, 'Welcome back.'"
In the spring of 2012, after qualifying for the U.S. Open at Olympic in San Francisco, Casey Martin was pleasantly surprised to see this tweet from @TigerWoods: "Simply incredible. Ability, attitude and guts. See you at Olympic Casey."
Woods added a link to a story about Martin. They had not talked in years, but they played a practice round together at Olympic. After all those years of rooting for Woods, Martin knew that Woods was rooting for him too.
"Everything is so stable now," Begay says. "Tiger and Elin are on better terms, for the sake of their children. He is very involved with his children. And the golf is not far behind. It's been difficult to maintain focus with all the off-course distractions, but I think he is firmly settled with his familial responsibilities and where his life's at now.
"Last year you saw he was a little bit more reserved. He was able to accept his failings with a little bit more humility. I think those are indicative of somebody who is in a healthy place emotionally."
Is Woods playing better because he is at peace? Or is he at peace because he is playing better? How much of his success comes from having a healthy knee, and how much is a result of a healthy outlook? There is no way to break this down mathematically: Twenty-seven percent is health, 16% is swing change, 24% is from being at peace with himself. It is all part of the picture. He can't unmix that paint.