It can't be fun to get waxed by 7 shots, as Watson did in playing alongside Woods at Albany Golf Club. But Bubba seemed to have no worries about it and was just happy to tag along and enjoy the ride as Woods shot 6-under-par 66 in the second round of the Hero World Challenge.
"To be there for Augusta, it was special," said Watson, a two-time Masters champion who was one of those waiting in a green jacket to congratulate Woods on his victory in April. "Any chance you get to play with him and goof around with him is fun.
"And then when you see him like that, his swing is so smooth. It's pretty nice to watch."
Woods made four birdies and an eagle and didn't post a bogey on Thursday to climb the leaderboard and finish in a tie for fifth, although he is 6 strokes behind leader Patrick Reed, who shot his second straight 66 to finish the round at 132, 12 under par.
For Woods, it was a nice comeback from Wednesday's opening-round 72 in which he played the last two holes in 2 over par and struggled on the greens.
"I think it was just less windy," Woods said. "It was a little bit easier today. Scoring conditions were a little bit better. I didn't hit the ball as well as I would like starting out. But other than No. 2, I missed the greens in the correct spot, so I had easy chips and I had to make a couple. But I got it going on the back nine, which is nice."
Woods got going at the par-5 11th with a 6-iron from more than 200 yards to 7 feet that set up an eagle, and then he made three more birdies coming in while managing to play the two closing holes -- his nemesis holes the day before -- in even par.
That meant matching the low round of the day and left him just 3 shots out of second held by U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland. Defending tournament champion Jon Rahm and Henrik Stenson are tied for third, 4 strokes back. Woods is in a three-way tie for fifth with Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas.
Woods is playing for the first time since he won the Zozo Championship in October, his 82nd PGA Tour victory. Having not played for some two months before then and having undergone minor knee surgery, Woods looked surprisingly good in posting that win, a trend that has continued here.
"I can drive the ball a little bit better because I can rotate, and I can putt the ball better because I can get down and read putts again," he said. "Towards the end of the [season], I couldn't do that, so this has been nice to be able to get down there, squat and read some putts.
"I felt good with every aspect of my game. I worked hard on everything, felt pretty sharp. Yesterday was just a tough day with the wind blowing so hard, trying to figure out how much wind I'm going to play on a putt, trying to brace myself on certain shots. Not spin the ball, to spin the ball. It was kind of a tough day, and I kind of threw it out the wind. It was really hard to judge anything. Let's just keep playing the way I'm playing, I should be all right. It turned out all OK today."
The Hero World Challenge is Woods' annual fundraising event for his foundation and is an unofficial event on the PGA Tour, although it does offer World Ranking points. Woods has won the tournament five times, most recently in 2011.