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VIA: New York Daily News

Showing off his guns and abs and glaring at the camera, golfer Tiger Woods looks nothing like the good guy of the greens in Annie Liebowitz shots gracing the February cover of the latest issue of Vanity Fair.

The menacing shot – never before seen – was taken in January 2006, long before the world learned the married father of two cheated on his wife with as many as a dozen women.

In the accompanying article, Buzz Bissinger interviews some of the reporters who covered Woods for years to find out how the golf great kept his catting around under wraps for so long.

Bissinger also revisits the embarrassing interview that a then-21-year-old Woods gave to Charles Pierce of GQ magazine in 1997. Woods joked about lesbian sex and the endowments of black athletes – the kind of gaffe he never repeated once he signed with super agent Mark Steinberg.

Golf blogger Joe Logan says Woods listened to his handlers and became the Sphinx of the links.

“Tiger learned very well to talk forever and say nothing,” Logan says.

Michael Bamberger of Sports Illustrated said that as a partly black man in a white man’s game, Woods learned how to fly below the radar.

“What seems clear now is that he lived a very abnormal life all his life in a sport in which guys are very conventional,” he says. “And if you are not conventional, you get ostracized right away.”

Woods even kept other golfers at arm’s length, “though he was always affable, never antagonistic,” writes Bizzinger.

As the story hit newsstands on Wednesday, Elin Nordegren – Woods’ scorned spouse – has been celebrating her 30th birthday far from her husband in the French Alps.

While it has been widely reported that the Woods marriage is on the rocks and Nordegren has been photograph sans her wedding ring, new photos purportedly showing the Swedish siren wearing her wedding band have surfaced – sowing more confusion in the ever-evolving Tiger Tale.

Woods has shed no new light on what’s going on.

Nordegren has reportedly told pals that her philandering husband left a cool $300 million in her Christmas stocking.

The report, in Britain’s News of the World, said it’s all part of Nordegren’s plan to get hers – and keep their two kids in comfort – in a coming divorce battle.

Woods has not seen his two children – Sam, 2, and 10-month-old Charlie – for more than a month and had to mail them their Christmas presents, a source told the paper.

Photographs in The Daily News over the weekend captured a carefree Nordegren hitting the slopes at France’s Chamonix ski resort, a wintry wonderland where the rooms cost $8,000-a-night.

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