Now Woods is at the U.S. Open coming off a June 3 victory at the Memorial and people are a little more skeptical, almost as if they don't want to be fooled again into thinking that Woods is really "back-back." And many don't think Woods will be back to his old form until he wins a major.
Woods doesn't sound like he really cares what the skeptics think, particularly those in the media. Even if he does win this week's Open at the Olympic Club, "You're not to 18, or when will you get to 19? It's always something with you guys," he said Tuesday.
"I've dealt with that my entire career, ever since I was an amateur and playing all the way through to professional golf. It hasn't changed."
He hasn't won a major since he captured his third Open, the 2008 championship at Torrey Pines, almost literally on one leg, but Woods cannot be ignored in a major, especially this week. He is feeling good about his game, and notes that he struck the ball much better at Muirfield Village than he did at Bay Hill.
"When I went into Augusta, I did not feel comfortable hitting the ball" high, he said. "And I got back into a lot of my old patterns. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. But that's what made playing Muirfield so nice is that I had those shots and I was doing it the correct way . . . hitting the ball high and hitting it long. That was fun."
As is customary in an Open, fun is not a word players use. That's particularly true at Olympic, a place with plenty of doglegs left and right and trees on both sides, where level lies in the fairway are exceedingly rare.
But Woods, like most great players, loves his layouts to be tough, and knows that he'll have to work the ball both ways.
"You have to curve it more off the tees here than any other golf course that we play," he said. "The neat thing about this golf course is it seems like the majority of doglegs kind of run away from you. It puts a big premium on shaping the ball. But it also puts a big premium on game planning, what you want to do, where you want to hit it, and being committed to that."
The greens at Olympic are expected to play at the lightning speeds characteristic of an Open. Woods admitted Tuesday he didn't make any putts of 15 to 20 feet at the Memorial but managed to make "a ton" from 10 feet and in, something that will help him starting Thursday.
"On this golf course it's going to be difficult to get the ball close," he said. "I'm going to rely a lot on lag putting, and obviously we're going to have to make those short putts. If you miss the green, a good pitch is going to be anything inside eight feet sometimes. That part I'm not too worried about."
Perhaps the more fascinating aspect of the first two days Woods will do battle with Olympic is in the player draw, which finds him with perennial rival Phil Mickelson and Masters champion Bubba Watson. Woods and Mickelson played together in the first two rounds of the 2008 Open.
Woods said that there is no extra motivation to score lower than Mickelson, that the key is to get himself in position for Sunday's chase for the title. But, he warned, don't expect a lot of conversation.
"I don't think we're going to talk a lot," he said. "It's such a test playing in this championship. This is one of those championships that I think the guys talk the least to one another because it's so difficult."
Contact Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or email@example.com. Follow @joejulesinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "Golf Inq," at philly.com/sports/golfinq