JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Tiger Woods laughed at the question and it was hard to blame him.
Woods had won 82 times around the world, including 14 majors. In the 47 tournaments that he had the outright lead going into the final round, only four players had managed to beat him. This was golf's ultimate closer.
But this also was a new world for Woods.
In the 12 months since his personal life came crashing down, he not only failed to win, he was never in serious contention. On this occasion, the 2010 Australian Masters, he made two eagles on the last four holes to turn an ordinary round into a 65 and back his way into fourth place. He was asked that day if he would have to learn how to win again the longer he failed to get in the hunt.
"No," he said, breaking into a confident smile.
Woods didn't even let the reporter finish a follow-up question, smiling while shaking his head. "No, no, no."
Three weeks later, Woods blew a four-shot lead in the final round of the Chevron World Challenge and lost in a playoff to Graeme McDowell. He later attributed that to being able to hit only one shot — a draw — while in the early stages of a swing overhaul.
A year later, when his health returned, Woods had a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the Australian Open and shot 75, falling six shots behind and never catching up. And then on Sunday in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, he was tied for the 54-hole lead with Robert Rock and couldn't hang with an Englishman who was No. 117 in the world with one career victory.
One shot behind when he made the turn, Woods didn't make a single birdie on the back nine.
Not to be overlooked was his win at the Chevron World Challenge two months ago, when he started the final round one shot behind Zach Johnson and birdied the last two holes for a one-shot victory.
It was an important win because it meant something to Woods, yet it was hard not to notice how much harder he had to work to get it.
Woods is still not there. He never thought winning was easy, but he used to make it look that way.
So what to make of Abu Dhabi?
As usual, it's best not to jump to conclusions about Woods.