Woods and McIlroy look set to battle for the big prizes in 2013
Ever since the winter of 2009 when the other side of Tiger Woods was exposed, causing his marriage to Elin Nordegren to end, there have been endless discussions about the state of his game.
After taking a four-month break from golf when he tried to save his failing marriage, Woods returned at the Masters and mounted a strong challenge for the title, eventually finishing in fourth place. However, it was clear that Woods was battling demons both on and off the golf course. He went for over 12 months without winning a tournament of any kind and he slid down the rankings, dropping out of the top 50 at one stage.
Now, although 2012 again saw Woods miss out on any of the four major tournaments, he has unquestionably enjoyed a great year by any standards. This has seen a huge upsurge in his world ranking and, though he hasn't been able to displace Rory McIlroyat the top of the tree, he has risen back to No. 2 in the world, overtaking previous No. 1s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald in the process.
This is all the more remarkable considering the changes he has gone through on the golf course over the last 18 months. He split from long term caddie Steve Williams and began working with Joe LaCava. The relationship between a caddie and a golfer is crucial, and his performance levels will only increase as they become more comfortable with each other on the course.
He has also been working with a new coach, Sean Foley, after long-term coach Hank Haney resigned his position. Their work together has focused on re-constructing the famous Woods swing to take less strain off his increasingly fragile body. The hard work has started to bear fruit with three tournament victories for Woods in 2012.
Woods may never break Jack Nicklaus' record of major titles, but in many people's eyes he is the greatest player to ever play the game and it is only a matter of time before he wins that elusive 15th major title.