For somebody who has not lived in his native Southern California since 1996, Tiger Woods seems at home at Torrey Pines Golf Course, where he'll make his 2013 PGA Tour debut this week at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Torrey Pines is the site of six of Woods' 74 PGA Tour wins and the site of perhaps the most memorable of his 14 major titles, the 2008 U.S. Open, where he prevailed in a Monday playoff while competing on a broken leg and a surgically repaired knee.
After skipping the San Diego tournament last year to appear in a European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates, Woods is returning to an event in which his career scoring average is 68.62.
In his season-opening event in Abu Dhabi last week, Woods missed the cut after incurring a two-stroke penalty in the second round for an illegal drop. Woods said he could not remember being penalized for such an infraction in some 30 years of competing.
Woods is his own harshest critic, but even he looks back with wonder at that U.S. Open victory, the most recent of his major titles. He pulled off some remarkable shots while in excruciating pain to beat Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff.
"I don't ever want to experience that again," Woods said Tuesday, adding, "I really don't know how I quite got through it."
The North and South courses are playing faster this year, owing to a lack of rainfall, so they are not playing quite the same as Woods remembers. But still he said he felt comfortable here.
For the first half of his life, Woods was the quintessential California kid. He was born in Orange County and attended Stanford. As soon as Woods turned pro, he relocated to Florida, where there is no individual state income tax.
In November, California voters approved Proposition 30, which imposed a 13.3 percent tax rate for incomes of more than $1 million, an increase over the previous "millionaires'" tax of 10.3 percent. At the Humana Challenge on Sunday, Phil Mickelson, a San Diego-area resident, railed about his tax predicament and said he was faced with having to make "drastic changes" in his life.
Asked if he cared to comment on Mickelson's stance, Woods said: "Well, I moved out of here back in '96 for that reason. I enjoy Florida, but also I understand what he was, I think, trying to say."
Mickelson, a three-time winner at Torrey Pines, said Wednesday it was a "big mistake" to go public with his views.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.