TIGER Woods says his swing speed is back and he's starting to hit the ball "out there again" going into this week's British Open.
The 38-year-old Woods' appearance at Royal Liverpool - where he won the third of his three Open titles in 2006 - adds a fascinating element of uncertainty to the championship.
It's the former world No.1's first major since undergoing back surgery in March and the 14-time major winner has contested just one event since, missing the cut in last month's US PGA Tour event at the Congressional Club in Maryland.
Woods was hardly talking up his chances of a long-sought 15th major title after practising at Royal Liverpool but he did indicate his return was well on track.
"I've got my speed back, which is nice, and I'm starting to hit the ball out there again," said Woods."
"I'm only going to get stronger. As the weeks go on, I'm getting stronger and faster."
"The little baby steps worked."
Woods said he'd pushed hard in his recuperation to get his abdominal and glute muscles strong so he could rebound quickly and do whatever he wanted when he resumed playing.
"I'm at that point now," he said. "
We didn't think we'd get to that point until this tournament or the week after.
"Before I had the procedure, I was at the point I couldn't do anything. This is how I used to feel. I had been playing with (the back injury) for a while and I had my good weeks and bad weeks. Now they are all good."
And in contrast to eight years ago the Royal Liverpool course is a lot greener and not as hard as it was eight years ago when Woods hardly used his driver over the four days in winning by two shots and just weeks after the passing of his father and mentor, Earl.
Woods said the Hoylake course was still playing fast.
"It's a lot more green, lush, but it's still playing fast," said Woods who added that despite missing the cut on his comeback in Maryland, he still learnt a great deal from the experience.
"Congressional was big for me, the fact I could go out there and play and I got better as the days went on.
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