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Tiger Woods should be back in time for The Masters | Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy expects Tiger Woods to make a swift return from his latest back surgery and to be fit in time to play at the Masters in April. 

The 15-time major winner underwent a "small procedure" to fix a disc issue in his back last month, having experienced pain at the PNC Championship.

In a statement confirming the news on Tuesday, Woods said "I look forward to beginning training and am focused on getting back out on tour.”

“I’ve known for a while. He had it on the 23rd of December," McIlroy said in advance of playing at the Abu Dhabi Championship this week.

"Obviously I'm pretty close with him. So yeah, I think in his words, it was a small procedure, so I don't think it's anything that - obviously any time you're being cut into, obviously try to avoid that as much as you can.

"But yeah, he was back on his feet the next day and he was - so I don't think we can read too much into it. It was just something that was a - I think they were just trying to clean a couple little bits up.

"Obviously he won't be playing for the next couple of months, but he should be back for the Masters, if not before that. So yeah, I think he'll be just fine."

McIlroy added that he believes Woods can continue to compete at the highest level following the fifth back surgery of his career.

"I mean, he won the Masters with four back surgeries, so there's not much he can't do."

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