THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, Tiger Woods had gone more than two years and 26 worldwide golf tournaments without winning. That all changed at scenic Sherwood Country Club, where he birdied the final two holes to overtake Zach Johnson and win his fifth World Challenge title.
The victory served as a springboard for Woods, who went on to win three PGA Tour events in 2012 for the 12th time in his career. The 14-time major champion now owns 74 PGA Tour career wins, second only to Sam Snead, who has 82.
"This year has been fantastic in that regard," Woods said Tuesday, as he prepares to host and defend his title this week in the World Challenge presented by Northwest Mutual. "I've felt good. I've played a full schedule for the first time in a very long time, and am very pleased with what I've done overall with my game."
Physically, Tiger felt healthy enough to cement his new swing changes with instructor Sean Foley.
"At the outset of the year, I didn't really putt well," Woods said. "Towards the end of the year, I really started putting well. My short game has really come around, and I was able to spend less time beating golf balls. I started to really feel like I was becoming more consistent."
The 36-year-old Woods made 17 of 19 cuts on the PGA Tour and posted nine top-10 finishes. He earned more than $6.1 million, second only to Rory McIlroy, and currently ranks third on the Official World Golf Ranking.
"Obviously, there's always things we need to work on, and this offseason we have a list of things we want to get done, and that'll start a couple weeks after this week, shut it down for a little bit and then start gearing it up again," he said.
As for McIlroy, the two have become friendly rivals.
"Rory is ranked No. 1," Woods said. "He deserves it. He's won tournaments all over the world. He's had high finishes on top of that, and that's how you do it. He should be very proud of the season he's had, and I'm sure he's excited about what next year holds for him as well."
Woods has similar feelings about his own future.
"I still feel I have some of my best golf to play, and in order to do that, I had to be healthy," he said. "I'm headed in the right direction."
The United States Golf Association and R&A have scheduled a news conference Wednesday to discuss the use of long putters. Most observers think they will ban or limit them in future competition, a stance Woods supports.
"I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves and having it as a fixed point, as I was saying all year, is something that's not in the traditions of the game," Woods said. "We swing all 13 other clubs. I think the putter should be the same."
Woods also put to rest a rumor that he was considering joining the European Tour as well as the PGA Tour.
"I'll make it real simple," he said. "I'm not going to play the European Tour next year. That's a bit much for me. Certainly, I've had opportunities over the years, especially when [the minimum requirement] was 11 events. I enjoy playing around the world and always will, but I am going to play this tour."
As always, Woods will focus on major championships in 2013. But they come second to spending time with his 5-year-old daughter, Sam, and 3-year-old son, Charlie.
"I remember the time at Doral when I three-putted 18 and just totally screwed things up, and that hurt quite a bit," Woods said. "I came home, and Sam wanted to play. I never thought about the three-putt until the next day. It puts things in perspective real quick, how important it is being a parent. That's the No. 1 priority."