Is Tiger Woods Getting Even Better?

"He's the best player the game has ever seen, as far as I'm concerned," said Stewart Cink, who played in Woods' group over the weekend. "Just to watch him play and see how he goes about his business. I like how he stays calm and stays on task, whether he's two or three shots behind or eight shots ahead. It's the same Tiger Woods. He makes it look easy, but it's not easy."

Woods also won his first tournament of the year after his name was at the center of controversy for three weeks after remarks by Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman that got her suspended and had commentators calling for him to take more of a stand on social issues.

"Honestly … everyone needs to leave the guy alone," Couples said. "Every time he gets upset, he wins by 15 shots. We have to tout him, tell him how great he is, be enamored."

Woods became the first player to win different tournaments four straight years. He also won the Bay Hill Invitational, now called the Arnold Palmer Invitational, four straight times from 2000 to 2003.

The victory tied Woods with Palmer for fourth on the all-time list of PGA Tour wins at 62, and the two have been known to rib each other through the years. But Woods won't do so with today's standard way of messaging.

"Does he actually receive texts?" Woods said, laughing. Well, Arnie, 78, is not known for such technological prowess -- unless it comes to flying his own airplane.

"The relationship Arnold and I have … I think it'll be more fun when I get to the point where I get one up on him and I can jab him a little bit because he's always jabbed me," Woods said. "That's the great thing about Arnold. He's the best that way."

It would only be fitting if Woods passed Palmer at the latter's own invitational tournament in March. And it's possible. After playing next week at the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour -- which does not count on his PGA Tour record -- Woods is expected to play just once more before Bay Hill, at the Accenture Match Play Championship.

There are no guarantees there, even for Woods.

Then again, he has proved to be far better at delivering than the weather folks.

Bob Harig is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.

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