California: When Tiger Woods was starting out on the PGA Tour he thought playing hurt was just part of what it took to become a successful golfer.
"I think when we are younger we feel more bullet proof, or invulnerable, because we heal so much faster," Woods said on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old Woods says he now understands the difference between rehabilitating an injury properly and rushing back to competition.
On top that he has had to learn to balance his rehab with a strict training regimen that has helped propel him to 14 major championships.
"The more we age, the more time we need to heal," Woods said.
"I understand training way better now than I did before. Wearing myself out for no reason at all -- which we all did when we were younger. I have to train smarter, practice smarter.
"I have proven to myself I can play hurt as well as injured. But that is a double-edged sword because I can go out there and play like I did at the 2008 (US) Open and not feel my best and still win a golf tournament."
"So where is the line of demarcation between injury and pain? That is what I have always struggled with in the past because I don't know where the line is, because I can be successful either way."
Woods makes his 2012 US PGA Tour debut starting Thursday at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am which is also the same venue where he posted one of his most dominant major championship wins at the 2000 US Open.
It is also his first appearance at Pebble Beach since tying for 12th in 2002.
"My body's feeling explosive again and consequently I am hitting the ball further," said Woods, who shared third place two weeks ago in his only other start of the year in Abu Dhabi.
"I haven't played (Pebble Beach) and it has been scheduling. This time it fits perfectly into my schedule."
Pebble Beach was not only the site of his crushing 15-stroke US Open victory but also where rallied from a seven-shot deficit that same year to win the Pro-Am tournament.
Former world No. 1 Woods has won once and finished third twice in his last three tournaments as he looks to recapture the form that made him the most dominant PGA Tour player over the last 10 years.
That was before a 2009 sex scandal and injuries to his neck and knee that left his personal life and golf game in shambles.
His only victory since came in December the post-season World Challenge event he hosts for the benefit of his charitable foundation.
Now he's looking to build on that with a "W" in an official tour event.
Woods says he continues to improve and cement the swing changes he has worked to implement with coach Sean Foley.
"I played well in Abu Dhabi," Woods said. "I am just working on the same things and hoping to keep building on what we are trying to do.
"I have made huge progress. I can do the things that Sean wants me to do with my golf swing."
Woods heads into the Pebble Beach tournament ranked 17th in the world after starting the season at No. 23.
His playing partner in the pro-am format is Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo who has been sending Woods tapes of his swing for Woods to critique.
"He has been calling me quite a bit," Woods said of Romo. "Sending me video 'what can I do, blah, blah, blah, blah.'
"He understands how to play and he can really move the ball. All the athletes I have played with, especially baseball players, the majority of hockey players, they all move the ball.
"They have so much more power than we golfers do because of the type of training and the size they have. It is cool to see."
Oddly enough, the time Woods says he feels like he is getting older now is when he is playing with his kids.
"I am sore quite often," he said. "They are not very tall and bending down there and playing with them and building things that's pretty low to the ground so I do get sore."