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Woods has had multiple back operations in recent years

Fourteen-time major winner Tiger Woods says he has never experienced such “warmth” from fans as he has this year.

Woods has had back surgery four times – most recently in April 2017 – and had previously questioned whether he would ever return to competitive golf.

But the 42-year-old American, who is in contention to be picked for September’s Ryder Cup, says his comeback has endeared him to a new set of fans.

“I think people are more appreciative,” said Woods.

“They’ve all gone through it – when you get to your forties you’re feeling it.

“They know I’m at the tail-end of my career. I don’t know how many years I’ve got left but I’m certain I’m not like I was when I was 22. At 42 it is a different ball game.”

Woods, who made his latest comeback at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas last November, made a remarkable return to form earlier this month at the US PGA Championships, carding a final-day 64 to finish second behind winner Brooks Koepka.

He will be back in action this week at the FedEx Cup play-offs in New Jersey and says fans can relate to his new vulnerabilities.

“I’ve struggled and I’ve had some back pain, I’ve been through four surgeries and I’m trying to work back and it’s been tough, and people understand that,” he said.

“This entire year has been so different. Go back to how everyone received me at Tampa [in the Valspar Championship in March] – that was very special.

“I hadn’t received ovations and warmth like that.”

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