Tiger: Pics posted to foil tabloids

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Tiger Woods said he went public this week about his relationship with skier Lindsey Vonn in order to avoid harassment from tabloid media and to protect his two children.

Woods, 37, announced Monday via Facebook and Twitter that he is dating Vonn, 28, who also posted the news on her accounts. The two have been dating for several months.

"It's very simple. We're very happy where we're at, but also we wanted to limit the 'stalkarazzi' and all those sleazy websites that are out there following us," Woods said Wednesday at the Bay Hill Club, where he will play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational starting Thursday. "I've had situations where it's been very dangerous for my kids and the extent they'll go to. We basically devalued the first photos.

"Unfortunately, that's just the way it is in our society right now, and we felt like it was the best thing to do. I'm very happy about it."

Woods has had plenty of experience with that, especially following his admission in late 2009 of extramarital affairs that led to a divorce from Elin Nordegren, with whom he has two children, Sam, 5, and Charlie, 4.

Much of the attention focused on Woods happened just a few minutes away from Bay Hill at his former Isleworth home; he has since moved to the Jupiter, Fla., area.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Woods is playing some of his best golf since his personal problems and return to golf in 2010 started a downward spiral. Woods lost the No. 1 ranking he held for five years on Oct. 31, 2010, and dropped to 58th in the world in late 2011.

After five victories in the past year, including wins this season at Torrey Pines and Doral, Woods has a chance to go back to No. 1 in the world -- a space he occupied for a total of 623 weeks.

A victory this week at Bay Hill -- where he has won seven times, including last year -- would move him past Rory McIlroy.

"To gradually work my way back, that's something I'm very proud of," Woods said. "I've got five wins in the last couple of years; that's something I'm proud of. We're still getting better. Things are still becoming more efficient. These two wins I've had this year I've built myself some nice leads, which means that I've played really well, and things are starting to come around and become more efficient day in and day out."

Woods begins play Thursday at 8:05 a.m. ET off the 10th tee along with Ernie Els and Justin Rose. This is Woods' final tournament prior to the Masters, which begins April 11.