As Australian Adam Scott and South African Louis Oosthuizen grabbed the first-round lead at the $7 million event in Shenzhen, the 36-year-old Woods was holding a putting clinic for school children in Singapore.
The main sponsor had been unhappy Woods and world number one McIlroy chose to miss the WGC event despite being in the country and playing in a lucrative exhibition event.
Woods said he was looking forward to competing in the World Challenge in December, an invitational event he hosts in California, before putting his clubs away for a long rest.
"I was tired and doing these things (clinics) are easy. Competing and getting ready for another golf tournament, I just didn't want to do that," Woods said at Marina Bay after offering his expertise to 12 selected teenagers.
"I've got four more rounds at my tournament in LA and I'm done until Abu Dhabi next year so I'm looking forward to having this extended break. This is my off-season now and I'm really looking forward to getting away from it.
"Competing and playing golf tournaments after a long schedule, the play-offs, the Ryder Cup and a lot of other tournaments, it's been a while," he added of his need for a break after his first full season on Tour since 2005.
Woods, winner of 14 Majors before his marriage imploded in late 2009, lost to McIlroy by a shot in the exhibition dubbed 'The duel on the lake'. The American said he was happy with his year after returning from numerous injury problems.
"This year, I've had three wins and things are certainly progressing nicely," said Woods, who has been plagued by knee, back and Achilles injuries in recent years.
"Last year I was 127th on the (US PGA Tour) money list, or whatever I was, and this year I'm second so that's a pretty good improvement in a year and given that I'm healthy I'm really looking forward to next year.
"Four more opportunities at Major championships and with my game improving, I'm very excited about that for next year."
His three tour titles meant he overtook Jack Nicklaus for second place on the all-time US PGA Tour win list. But he remains four behind the 'Golden Bear' on Major titles as swing changes introduced by coach Sean Foley have yet to yield a major reward.
"I'm working on it," Woods said, when asked when he would add to his haul after last winning at the 2008 US Open.
"Last year I was hurt most of the summer and didn't play anything, so implementing change like that ... has taken its time."
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