Tiger Woods signs autographs Wednesday at Bay Hill. (Phelan M.Ebenhack / AP)

Tiger Woods signed autographs Wednesday. He smiled. He even answered a question about his personal life with nary a snarl.

Who is this guy?

Well, he’s the guy who can regain the world’s No. 1 ranking in golf with a win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational that begins today. He’s the guy who’s comfortable and confident in his game again. And he’s the guy who happily announced that he’s in a relationship with Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn. (What to call this power couple — Liger? Tigsey?)

He was asked about Vonn on Wednesday and gave an actual answer, rather than his stock I-don’t-talk-about-my-private-life.

“Well, it’s very simple,” he said of the decision to announce the Liger relationship on Facebook and Twitter on Monday. “We’re very happy where we’re at, but also we wanted to limit the stalk-a-razzi and all those sleazy Web sites that are out there following us. I’ve had situations where it’s been very dangerous for my kids and the extent they’ll go to. We basically devalued the first photos. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is in our society right now and we felt like it was the best thing to do.”

Woods was asked whether he might seek advice from Rory McIlroy, presently the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, about having a relationship with a high-profile athlete. McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki are in a relationship.

“No,” he said. With a smile.

One can only hope Woods and Vonn don’t do this:


This Liger/Tigsey thing is nice. Now, will great golf follow, with the Masters looming April 11? Woods, 37, won his 76th PGA Tour event (and his second of 2013) two weeks ago, edging closer to Sam Snead’s record 82, and he answered questions about that thoughtfully.

“It gets harder and harder with each generation,” he said. “The talent pool gets better. Kids are getting more athletic. … When I first came out here at 20, that was like, ‘Whoa, you’re coming out here pretty early.’ Now we get kids turning pro at 15, 16. It’s different. They’re going to have more years where they can win more tournaments, and it’s not that easy to do.”

Woods, who tees off at 8:05 a.m. EDT today at Bay Hill, was clear about the goal he has set for himself now. “I don’t want to become as good as I once was,” he answered. “No, I don’t. I want to become better.”

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