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Top field for World Challenge as Tiger returns

Tiger Woods

"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.

The Hero World Challenge, which brings in the elite of the sport sees the man with 14 Major titles making a 10th comeback. "My doctor said, 'You'll be good for the rest of your life.'".

Woods said he has played practice rounds at home with the likes of Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. "I didn't realise how bad my back was and now I'm feeling the way I'm feeling, it's hard to imagine that I was living the way I was living with my foot not working, my leg not working and the hours of not being able to sleep at all because of the pain".

Woods said it was "fantastic to come back" and he was raring to get back to competition. Along with Johnson, who has held on to the top spot since February 2017 despite suffering from a back injury after a fall, the field includes year's three major winners - US Open champion Brooks Koepka, the Open Championship victor Jordan Spieth and PGA Championship victor Thomas.

"I would like to say that I am here to win this damn thing, but this is different". I am stiffer. Of course, (my lower back is) fused.

And as it relates to the new generation of golfers who mostly grew up watching him instead of competing against him, he has a wish that he knows might not be realized.

Woods' return this week will make it the 10th time he has returned from layoffs that were 10 weeks or longer.

It's nearly December, which means it's nearly time for Tiger Woods to take over the sports world again.

The World Challenge is a four-round, stroke-play event with a $3.5 million purse, a $1 million winner's prize and official world golf rankings points awarded.

In his previous lay-off from golf, Woods was out of action from August 2015 to December 2016, when he chose last year's Hero World Challenge for a comeback. I was able to hit some good shots but, looking back on it, I look like I was playing in slo-mo.

"I would love to give you a better answer but I just really don't know yet", the 14-time major victor told Golf Channel. The first ball I hit, a driver, I smoked it to about 130 yards (laughs).