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Why Tiger Woods is ready to 'stun the world' in 2018, explains Rory McIlroy

Northern Ireland's golfing sensation Rory McIlroy has tipped his own boyhood idol to become the sport's number one talking point again this season.

Tiger Woods is back in action after back surgery and at the age of 42, is ready to mix it with the best in the world once more.

In fact, Woods' condition left McIlroy and his dad Gerry all but speechless during a practice back in November. Woods invited the current world number 11 for a round at Jack Nicklaus' Bear’s Club course. And as Rory prepares to make his own comeback from injury at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, he has cast a thought on what that round might be leading to.

“I was on my way there worrying thinking, ‘what will I see?’, but it was incredible,” McIlroy told the Telegraph. “My dad also played with us and we both couldn’t believe it. I remember mouthing to Dad, ‘WTF?’. And on the drive home afterwards, we said: ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ Tiger was that good; playing every shot, not having to hold back.

“Tiger told me how he’d fixed it and how it was a mini-miracle, considering how bad it had been. He travelled to London to see the ultimate consultant on these things, who told him the only guy who could fix this was in Texas. Tiger went through the procedure and now he’s back.”

Woods made his comeback in last month's Hero World Challenge, finishing tied ninth.

“This is a different Tiger," continued Rory. He could stun the world – again. When he came back in 2013, all he did was hit a big cut and was getting himself around with his chipping and putting,” McIlroy said. “And, yeah, that is incredible in itself. But he’s got everything again now. You can talk about Jordan (Spieth - world number 2) and JT (Justin Thomas - world number 4) and all of them not seeing Tiger in his pomp, but I tell you what, I’ve never really seen Tiger at that level. He could be the story of the year. I hope he isn’t, I hope I am. But then if Tiger wins just one then he will be the story anyway.”

McIlroy will begin his 2018 season on Thursday. Also in action will be fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell.

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