In the latest stop on The Race to Dubai, defending champion Stephen Gallacher will return to Emirates GC on Thursday morning with World Number One Tiger Woods and 2009 Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner Rory McIlroy for company over the first 36 holes.
One of the marquee three balls drawn together over the opening two rounds, they will get under way at 0805 from the tenth tee.
In a tournament awash with former champions on this, it’s 25th anniversary, the 2004 winner Mark O’Meara returns to the Majilis Course alongside David Howell, who himself won the title in 1999. The Englishman is one to men to have won this title at the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, the other being José Coceres the following year.
Last week’s runner-up Mikko Ilonen, who lost in a play-off to Sergio Garcia at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, rounds out that group, starting day one on the back nine at 0745.
Off after Gallacher, McIlroy and Woods will be another former winner here, Rafa Cabrera-Bello. He will be joined by two time Wales’ Jamie Donaldson and BMW PGA Champion Matteo Manassero at 0815 from the tenth.
In the second half of the draw, the strong groups keep coming, with Thorbjørn Olesen, Robert Karlsson and 1998 winner José María Olazábal off the first at 1155. They’ll be followed by the equally eye catching threesome of Joost Luiten, Francesco Molinari and 2010 champion Miguel Angel Jiménez at 1215.
The most eye catching line up of all the afternoon section is arguably a trio of Dubai specialists though, namely Thomas Björn, Ernie Els and Henrik Stenson. All have tasted success here in the past, and will tee off the first on Thursday at 1225.
Rounding out the notable players to be taking part this week is the son of the 1992 winner here, Javier Ballesteros. A special invite from the tournament, the 23 year old amateur will represent his father this week alongside Wayne Westner, who himself won here in 1993, and Denmark’s Soren Hansen.