Tiger Woods was in a playful mood ahead of his return at the Hero World Challenge as he responded to Justin Thomas, who said he was looking forward to trying to kick the 14-time major champion's "ass".

Woods has been paired with 2017 US PGA Championship winner Thomas for his latest injury comeback in the Bahamas, starting Thursday.

All eyes will be on Woods after he recovered from back surgery and the 41-year-old stepped up his preparations with 18 holes during Wednesday's pro-am.

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Woods was asked if he had heard Thomas' comments and the veteran American told reporters with a grin: "There's nothing wrong with that. It goes both ways."

It was a fairly consistent round from Woods on the eve of his return, missing the fairway just once midweek.

"I'm looking forward to competing again. It's been a really long time," Woods said as he discussed his looming return.

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"Really looking forward to getting out there and playing with Justin. My driver feels good. I feel like I'm hitting it well."

Asked what area of his game needed improvement, Woods said: "I have to say hitting the ball the correct distance every time. That part has been a bit more difficult to do."