Tiger Woods made significant progress in 2012. He won three tournaments, he was second on the money-winning list behind Rory McIlroy and he served notice that when he plays his best golf, he is still the most charismatic golfer on the tour.
However, what Tiger Woods could not do was win any of the four major tournaments. He developed a poor pattern in this year's majors, often playing well for the first two rounds and setting himself up for what looked like an exciting finish.
He did not come through. On moving day, he did plenty of moving—in the wrong direction. Instead of threatening the leaders, Woods lost his consistency and struggled with makeable shots.
But as the days in 2012 dwindle down to a precious few, Woods is feeling optimistic about the future. Perhaps the main reason for that is he is feeling healthy again.
Woods has had his share of physical problems to go along with the emotional ills that became so public when his marriage to Elin Nordegren fell apart in 2009 following revelations about his private life (source: BBC.com).
Woods' most serious physical problem has been a left knee injury that required surgery and has caused significant pain over the years. He has has several other injuries as well (source: U-TSan Diego.com).
As he looks toward 2013, Woods' health problems have become a nonissue. That's not saying they won't crop up again or new ones won't develop, but he is feeling relatively strong.
That gives him more confidence than he has had at any point since 2008, which happens to be the last time he won a major.
The challenge of winning the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA continues to be Woods' primary goal.
He passed the $100 million mark in earnings in 2012, but that's not overly special to Woods, even though he is the only golfer to win that much cash. He wants to tick off at least one major in 2013 and resume his chase of Jack Nicklaus, who won 18 majors. Woods currently has 14.
Woods wrote about his desire to pick up the chase again in his own blog, saying he wants to "win those big four tournaments."
He also talked about his relationship with Rory McIlroy, whom he clearly acknowledges as the No. 1 golfer in the world in 2012.
However, Woods did not say the two had a "rivalry" at this point. A rivalry develops when golfers confront each other and both play their best in the biggest tournaments, as Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer did during the 1960s.
Woods says he is looking forward to see how it "plays out" over the next five to 10 years and see if a rivalry develops.
But Woods heads into 2013 with an excellent frame of mind: He won three tournaments last year, he was second in earning and his health is good.
That's a better starting point than he has had in any of his recent golf seasons, and there's no reason he can't win at least one major this year.
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