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Thomas will have the best seat in the house on Thursday when 41-year-old Woods, who had fusion surgery on his lower back in April, plays for the first time in 10 months at the 18-man Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

In the past, Woods has struggled upon returning from his back surgeries - he's survived to the weekend in just 12 official events since the start of 2014, slipping all the way to 1,199th in the world rankings.

At the 18th, Woods outdrove Hazeltine Ryder Cup winning Reed by all of 60 yards, showing no signs of any back concern by going 100 per cent in every shot and not flinching at all, even in picking-up a tee. "But he's in a great place mentally and physically".

"It could be the next step, I just don't know and that's tough to live with", he added.

Playing a casual 18 holes with Brad Faxon, Dustin Johnson and the President of the United States, Woods was said to be bombing tee shots further than everyone, including Johnson. He looked great. I think more than anything, he looked at ease. "The ball flight, the sound off the club, all of it was right there".

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Faxon wasn't the first golfer to deliver a rave review of Woods' game in the last few weeks.

By all accounts, it seems like Tiger is finally ready for a full comeback onto the PGA TOUR and the Hero Challenge was the ideal spot to return. Rickie Fowler said the 79-time PGA Tour victor has been hitting it "way by" him at Medalist Golf Club, where they are both members, while the former world No. 1 Jason Day said Woods is "the best he's ever felt in three years".

"The fact that I don't have any pain in my lower back compared to what I was living with for years, it's just remarkable", Woods told reporters on Sunday after a speedy practice round at Albany, where he will make his first start in nearly nine months at this week's Hero World Challenge. "To finally come out on the good side of it, it's exciting".

"That morning, Trump tweeted that he was going to be playing with Johnson and Woods", Faxon wrote. From Woods' perspective, the quality-of-life element of being pain-free is evident. "I want to see it and I want to compete against it".


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