I'm looking forward to trying to kick his ass! - Thomas' warm welcome back for Woods

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Justin Thomas issued a friendly warning to Hero World Challenge playing partner Tiger Woods as he told the returning legend that he was "looking forward to trying to kick his ass".

The 2017 US PGA Championship winner will tee it up alongside 14-time major champion Woods in the Bahamas on Thursday.

Woods is making his latest injury comeback after recovering from back surgery and Thomas reminded everyone of the influence his American compatriot continues to yield.

"There's nobody that moves the needle like him, even now," said Thomas. "If he had 15 wins and two majors then people wouldn't care, but he has 79 and 14 majors.

"I'm probably just as excited to watch it as you are. I just get a front-row seat to it on Thursday, but I'm also looking forward to trying to kick his ass to be perfectly honest."

Woods is the headline act among a small but stellar field at this week's PGA Tour event.

The 41-year-old was in buoyant mood at his own pre-tournament press conference, insisting he was in much better shape than when he made a much-anticipated return at the same event last year.

He said: "This is very different. Last year I was still struggling with the pain. I was able to hit some good shots, but looking back now I was playing in slow motion.

"That was as hard as I could hit it. I didn't realise how bad my back had become and just how slow I was, because it's been a slow, degrading process.

"Now to come out here and do what I've been doing the last couple weeks ... it's been great."