AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods seemed mildly surprised Tuesday when he was introduced at a news conference as playing the Masters for the 18th time, dating to when he was the U.S. Amateur champion.
He only made it through two years at Stanford, but he's pretty good at math.
"I've spent just about half my life playing this tournament," said Woods, who turned 36 in December.
Not quite, but point taken.
Over the years, he has learned from some of the best. One of his first practice rounds was with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, who have 10 green jackets between them. He also has played with Greg Norman and Jose Maria Olazabal, along with Mark O'Meara.
"I'm trying to gain as much intel as I possibly can," Woods said of the practice round with Nicklaus and Palmer. "And I'm asking them on every hole, 'What do you do here? What do you do here? What do you do here?' And I'm pretty sure they got sick of me."
In return, Woods has been generous sharing. For years, he would often play with amateurs who wanted to tap into brain and figure out the nuances of Augusta National.
Woods played Tuesday with Sean O'Hair.
"We were talking about the golf course and what flag you fire at and where you want to miss it to this flag, where do you hit over the green, blah, blah, blah," he said. "I help him as much as I possibly can, and we're playing together (today). He wants some more advice on the other nine holes. Obviously, I had something good to say, I guess."
That's one thing that sets golf apart.
It is not unusual for players to offer tips, or share something they see in someone's swing on the practice range, even if they're trying to beat that guy during the week.
"I think it's just the role of being here as a champion, and being here a number of years, is that you pass knowledge on," Woods said. "It's not something that we hold and are going to keep sacred. We pass it on from one generation to the next."
But maybe not everything.
Phil Mickelson has made it a habit of taking younger players out for practice rounds, and he's not bashful about showing them the dangers of various hole locations or the best angle to attack — but joked there's a limit.
"First of all, you only share a little bit," Mickelson said to laughter. "And you want them to know that you've got an advantage."