"I was skinny back then," Tiger said Monday, when asked what he saw when he looked back there. "I looked like a 1-iron. But I had a lot of speed."
He still fires up people. Maybe they're seeking nostalgia instead of history, but they're around.
Tiger returns to tournament golf today at Torrey Pines. In fact, he is dispelling concerns about his back by scheduling four events in five weeks, including the renamed Genesis Open at Riviera, a tournament the Tiger Woods Foundation now operates.
He will play in Dubai next week, then Riviera two weeks after, then the Honda Classic in Palm Beach. His only start in 2016 was in his own Hero Challenge in the Bahamas, where he did manage a 65 but finished 4-over par.
"It's challenging but I look forward to it," Woods said. "I've sat out long enough."
He had eight starts in 2014 and 12 in 2015, with only one top 10 (10th in Greensboro). He withdrew from Torrey Pines in the first round when he said his glutes weren't activating, which launched snickers and a few hashtags, but those back problems threatened to stop him cold.
"There were low moments, times when I didn't think I'd ever play again, or be able to play with my kids or have a normal life," Woods said.
But Woods was standing astride this game as recently as 2013, with five wins. The last was a runaway at the Bridgestone. He still hasn't won a major since his 14th, at Torrey Pines at the U.S. Open nine years ago.
If Woods' name is ever hanging on a major leaderboard on a Sunday morning, rest assured that the world would say hello.
"Jordan Spieth and Jason Day and Rory McIlroy are all fantastic players," Jason Dufner said last week, at the CareerBuilder Challenge. "But all those guys combined don't push the needle like Tiger does on a national level."
Woods turned 41 on Dec. 30.
"I won a major in my 40s and Darren Clarke and Mark O'Meara have done it," Ernie Els said last week in Singapore.
Els won the Open Championship in 2012 when he was 42. The next year, Phil Mickelson won it when he was 43. Last year, Bernhard Langer, at 58, played in the next-to-last group on Sunday at the Masters.
Nobody is saying Woods has observed too many birthdays. Everybody is wondering if his body can withstand its own wrenching physics.
But Woods is also inspired by all the putts that fell in the Bahamas, since he retrieved his Newport 2 GSS putter, made by Scotty Cameron. Woods won 13 of his 14 majors with it, and resumed using it last year when Nike abandoned the golf equipment business.
This will be Woods' first tournament at Riviera since 2005. He teed it up twice as an amateur, using persimmon woods, and shot 72-75 as a 16-year-old in 1992, with nearly the same massive galleries he lured as a pro.
"The club never felt so heavy when I drew it back on the first tee," Woods said. "But I hit it down the middle and made a birdie. Then I snap-hooked it against a fence on No. 2."
Woods had eight top-20 finishes in his pro starts and had a memorable duel with Els in 1999, which ended when Tiger "put it into a beverage cart on 18." But he never won, and found several reasons for skipping Riviera: tight scheduling, four three-putts in two different tournaments on coarse greens, stifling traffic, torrential weather, you name it.
Which brought several internal smiles in the room Monday when Woods lauded Riviera.
"I love the course," he said. "I just haven't played it well."
Those who have made such history are permitted to revise it.