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Woods has played only 32 tournaments since returning, at the 2010 Masters, from the scandal in his personal life. He has missed the cut twice. He has withdrawn three times. And he has 21 finishes out of the top 10 _ that’s as many times out of the top 10 from the 2004 U.S. Open to his last official win at the 2009 Australian Masters.

Woods has not played a complete season since 2009, and that one didn’t get started until the Match Play Championship when he returned from reconstructive knee surgery.

He’s not the same player he was. That much is clear.

He might not ever be.

Woods turned 36 at the end of last year, but he’s an old 36.

Woods already has had four surgeries on his left knee dating to when he was at Stanford. He first mentioned his left Achilles after the Masters last year, saying he injured it in the third round at Augusta while trying to play a shot from an awkward stance under Eisenhower’s Tree on the 17th hole.

He tried to return too early at The Players Championship and quit after nine holes and 42 shots, then sat out for three months until he was convinced his left leg was strong as ever. That enabled him to work on his new swing, to resume physical training, to get stronger.

There was no indication of an Achilles problem until early in the final round. And that can only lead to speculation that perhaps his Achilles really is his Achilles, more than the knee.

Nicklaus only won four majors after he turned 36, and Nicklaus was never seriously injured. He didn’t have to withdraw from a major until seven years later, when he was 43, because of a bad back.

“For him to go back and win again, he’ll have to figure out that he’s a different person today than he was five years ago,” Nicklaus said last week at the Honda Classic. “I was a different person when I was 25 years old than when I was 35 years old. I had to learn how to play. I didn’t have the strength. I couldn’t overpower the golf course.

“I’ve got great respect for Tiger’s golf game, and I think he’ll be back.”

Woods at least learned one lesson. After he injured his Achilles at the Masters last year, he returned a month later at The Players Championship even though some in his camp thought he should have waited another month to be sure he was fine.

He hopes to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, which starts March 22, his last tournament before the Masters.

“In the past, I may have tried to continue to play,” Woods said Sunday. “But this time, I decided to do what I thought was necessary.”

Still, each injury makes him look more mortal.

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