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Fit-again Tiger Woods is on course for Phoenix return

By Phil Casey

Former world number one Tiger Woods has confirmed he will start his 2015 season at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the most raucous event on the PGA Tour.

Woods suffered an injury-plagued 2014 which saw him undergo back surgery, fail to qualify for the FedEx Cup play-offs or Ryder Cup and split from coach Sean Foley before hiring a new "swing consultant" - Chris Como - in November.

After missing the cut in the US PGA Championship in August, the 39-year-old had a lengthy spell on the sidelines before returning to action in December at his Hero World Challenge, where he finished joint last in the 18-man field.

"It will be great to return to Phoenix," Woods said.

"The crowds are amazing and always enthusiastic and the 16th hole is pretty unique in golf."

On his Twitter page, Woods posted a link to his hole-in-one in 1997 on the 16th, a short par three which attracts massive crowds who often boo when players miss the green.

The 14-time major winner will also contest the following week's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, scene of his last major title in 2008.

"Torrey is a very important place to me," he added.

"My pop took me there when I was younger and I have a lot of special memories of watching the Tour play there when I was growing up."

Woods has not played in the Waste Management Phoenix Open - which takes place from January 29 to February 1 - since 2001.

Super Bowl XLIX is also scheduled to be played on February 1 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Meanwhile, Ballyclare man Gareth Maybin - on level par - is eight shots off the lead after shooting a second-round 73 at the South African Open Championship in Johannesburg.

Dubliner Peter Lawrie missed the cut by one shot after finishing on three over.

England's Andy Sullivan has one local major champion hot on his heels at the halfway stage but surprisingly another dropped well off the pace.

Sullivan added a 70 to his opening 66 at Glendower Golf Club to reach eight under par, one shot ahead of former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and eight clear of four-time major winner Ernie Els.

Tournament host Els, who has won the event five times, was just one shot behind Sullivan after an opening 67 but slumped to a second round of 77 which featured back-to-back triple bogeys around the turn.

Schwartzel is yet to win his national open.

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