IN late June 2008, a week after he astonished the golf world by winning the United States Open while grimacing in pain on a torn left knee, Tiger Woods traveled to a craggy chunk of land on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. It was a lunarlike landscape of dirt and rock, with an inactive volcano in the background. For several hours, he hobbled over the terrain, discussing with developers his vision for the golf course he would build there, while waves from the Pacific crashed onto the shoreline below. His knee, said one companion, rattled like tools in a tool box.

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