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Tiger Woods feels ‘great,’ seen taking big swings ahead of Hero World Challenge (video)

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Tiger Woods’ official return to competitive golf will come Thursday when the presumably fully-rehabbed golfer will participate in the Hero World Challenge at the Isleworth Golf & Country Club.

To hear it from the 38-year-old, 14-time major winner, he won’t require much time to shake off the rust, saying that feels “great” ahead of his latest triumphant return to the course.

I feel great,” Woods said during an interview on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, via ESPN.com. “I feel really, really good. It’s great to be back out here competing again. I’ve missed it quite a bit.”

Woods has been out of action since suffering a back injury in August, not playing competitively since the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla. The recurrence of the injury followed back surgery in late March, a procedure that further marred and derailed in PGA Tour season that was filled with starts and stops due to nagging back issues.

Woods returned to action in June but his play was erratic at best before he once again shut things down in August.

But that’s all in the rear view mirror for Woods as he ramps up his practice in preparation for the upcoming appearance at the Hero World Challenge, an event near and dear to the golfer as it benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation and the place he charted as his comeback tournament in comments made in October.

“I’m excited that I have this much time off to obviously heal and get stronger and get my game in order for next year,” he said. “I went through a period there for the last year, year and a half, where I didn’t really practice that much.”

Woods acknowledged he has been unable to generate any real momentum on the course due to the myriad of physical woes he’s had to endure.

“And, to be honest with you, I won some tournaments in 2013 where I wasn’t prepared but I just knew the venues or I knew, you know, how to get around. But I hadn’t practiced nearly enough as I would like to or I’m accustomed to,” he added. “And eventually it showed this year. I just couldn’t get away with it anymore.”

He says he feels much differently this time around, suggesting at long last he’s finally healthy enough to really get at it.

“I can finally log in the time, log in the minutes, and really delve into a good practice session and really get a lot out of it,” he said. “And that’s something that I hadn’t been able to do in quite some time.”

The official Twitter account for the Hero World Challenge posted video evidence Monday that Woods certainly appears healthy and back on track, showing the golfer taking some pretty mighty swings on the driving range.

Given that Woods missed both the U.S. Open and the Masters last season — two events that Tiger targets on the calendar each year given their major status, not to mention the fact that he also played terribly in the season’s other two majors —  one has to expect that the golfer, who will turn 39 this month, is doing anything and everything possible to make sure his 2015 campaign isn’t derailed by injury before it even gets going.

Competing at majors is always Woods’ No. 1 goal. Given his advancing age as he continues his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record means Woods’ margin for error as it relates to making sure he’s in top form at each and every one  of them is diminishing with each passing season.

In any event, Woods probably much prefers making news on the course this week as opposed to the way he made waves with his words a few weeks ago when he penned a scathing commentary condemning Golf Digest and writer Dan Jenkins for publishing a “fake” interview with him.