Tiger Woods has claimed he feels the best he has in over two years following his recovery from surgery on a pinched nerve in his lower back, and is excited about returning to golf at this week's Quicken Loans National.

The 38-year-old American has not competed on the PGA Tour since his final-round 78 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March where has was visibly struggling. 

After announcing he would miss his first Masters since 1994 to undergo surgery, the former world number one has spent the past three months rehabilitating, and he was happy to admit that his return this week in Maryland was ahead of schedule. 

"I'm actually probably ahead of schedule where everyone thought I would be at. It has been a very, very long time - probably a good two years - since I felt this way," he told reporters at his press conference

"We all thought that British Open would be my first event back, but I healed fast and I'm going to get stronger as time goes on."

As is always the case with the record-breaking Floridian, his return has been widely welcomed by everyone within the sport as he once again reignites his quest to topple Jack Nicklaus' major record of 18. 

The last of his 14 major titles came six years ago now, putting him on the longest drought of his professional career to date, but he was bullish if not reserved about his chances of overtaking the Golden Bear. 

"Expectations don't change," he said, having been asked whether he thought he could overtake Nicklaus. 

"That's the ultimate goal. It's just that it's going to be a little harder this time, but I'm good enough to play and I'm going to give it a go." 

Woods is also just three Tour wins away from equalling the legendary Sam Snead's haul of 82 - a record he is likely to break within the coming year if he returns to the level of last season where he recorded five victories on the American circuit. 

The Quicken Loans National directly benefits the Tiger Woods foundation - a factor he admitted that influenced his early return. However, it also has 500 FedEx Cup points available and Woods will need a very strong second half of the season if he is to battle his way into the season-ending playoff series that culminates in the Tour Championship. 

For now though, he is simply excited about being able to get back out playing the game he loves. 

"This has been quite a tedious little process but one where I got to a point where can play competitive golf again, and it's pretty exciting," he added.

"When you get treatment all the time, it's amazing what you can do."

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