It's impossible to know just how much impact last year's victory at the World Challenge had on his 2012 season, but Tiger Woods firmly believes it was significant.
"I hadn't won in a little bit there (over two years and 26 tournaments) and it was nice to not only win but to go headtohead against Zach (Johnson) and to do it the way I did, that really helped a lot because I had to earn it," Woods said during Tuesday's media conference at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks.
"I was one (shot) down with two to go and birdied the last two. Against a guy like Zach, that you know he's not going to go away, that really started the year off for me on a positive note, and I think consequently I ended up winning three times this year."
Woods would like nothing better than to jump-start his 2013 season by winning his own event, which starts Thursday and ends Sunday, for the sixth time in the tournament's 14-year history.
To do so he will have to beat perhaps the strongest field the tournament has had. The field includes 10 of Woods' 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup teammates, European Ryder Cup members Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell and young stars Rickie Fowler and Jason Day.
Before last year's tournament, there were many questions surround Woods' game. After a solid 2012, he is feeling much better about his play.
Woods started the season trying to get healthy, but after a brief setback that forced him to withdraw from the Doral, he rebounded well and played a full schedule for the first time since 2007.
Improved health and increased stability in his personal life helped Woods regain the form that made him the most dominant player in the sport.
"... Just very pleased with what I've done overall with my game," Woods said. " ... Towards the end of the year I started to really feel like I was becoming more consistent. Obviously there are always things we need to work on, and this offseason we have a list of things we want to get done. That'll start probably maybe a couple weeks after this event."
Since its inception 14 years ago, the World Challenge has been the flagship event for the Tiger Woods Foundation, raising more than $25 million for the foundation. The money funded the building of the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim and the foundation's expansion into places like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Florida.
"Without this event and without giving the foundation a platform to speak from, all these things that we've done wouldn't have happened," Woods said. "So I'm so thankful for this event and what it has meant to the foundation and the millions of kids that we've been able to affect in a positive way and all the first-generation kids that are going to have to college because of this event."
While the tournament starts Thursday, the buzz among players Tuesday was about today's scheduled announcement from golf's governing bodies, the USGA and the Royal & Ancient. It is expected that they will ban players from anchoring putters on their stomach or other parts of their body -- most notably the belly putter.
Woods has been vocal about his belief that anchoring a putter goes against the spirit of the rules of golf.
Many people believe that Woods' outspoken opinion contributed to the USGA and R&A deciding to make such a move.
"I don't know if it (his opinion) carried any weight or not, but I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves and having it as a fixed point," Woods said. "... We swing all other 13 clubs. I think the putter should be the same. It should be a swinging motion throughout the entire bag.
"One of the things that I was concerned about going forward is the kids who get started in the game and starting to putt with an anchoring system. There have been some guys who have had success out here, and obviously everyone always copies what we do out here, and that's something that I think for the greater good of the game needs to be adjusted."
Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els have all won major championships in the last two years using a putter that was anchored to their body.
Simpson said Tuesday he has started using a regular-length putter in preparation for the expected ban, which go into effect in 2016. Bradley may not switch until the rules force him to change.
"I'm not obviously happy with the (expected) ruling," Bradley said. "But I'm going to accept the challenge and hopefully do well when they do ban it."
The winner of this week's tournament will take home $1 million, with the last-place finisher earning $120,000.
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