The 18-hole stroke-play showpiece will provide a great spectacle when former champions of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic contest a US$600,000 prize fund as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the oldest European Tour event outside Europe.
The only former winner missing from the illustrious line-up will be the great Seve Ballesteros, who sadly lost his battle with cancer at the age of 54 in May 2011, but the presence of his son, Javier, will keep the ‘Seve Spirit’ alive and invoke memories of the golfing legend’s victory in 1992.
Javier, who made his debut on the Challenge Tour in April last year, is paired with fellow Spaniards Miguel Angel Jiménez and José Maria Olazábal, with the trio going out at 11:20.
"With so many big names in the field, it will be fun to play in the Champions Challenge. I am really grateful to golf in DUBAi for remembering my father and giving me the chance to play,” said Javier, who won the amateur Madrid Open in 2012.
"I really appreciate their gesture and congratulate them on behalf of my family on the 25th anniversary of the event." .
Ernie Els, who has won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic a record three times, will join Mark O’Meara and Colin Montgomerie in the second last group off at 11:50, while European number one Henrik Stenson will play alongside Mark James, the winner of the inaugural event in 1989, and Thomas Björn.
In another interesting pairing, Rory McIlroy, who at 19 years and 273 days became the youngest winner of the event 2009, is paired with 1990 winner Eamonn Darcy and Australian Richard Green who triumphed in 1997.
With so many featured groups, it will be interesting to see who comes out of the gate
s strongly, with much of the attention focused on Woods, a two-time winner of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, who is looking forward to his seventh appearance at the tournament.
“I appreciate the support I have received from the people in Dubai and I always enjoy playing in their tournament,” said Woods, who won the 2006 and 2008 event. “They have an outstanding field all the time, and the golf course (Majlis) is really in great shape."
The Champions Challenge, which will see the winner walk away with the top $300,000 prize, will also provide the former champions with a chance to have a good look at the well manicured course before the main action begins on Thursday, January 30.
‘golf in DUBAi' is backed by Omega as the title sponsor and Dubal (Dubai Aluminium) as the sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Drydocks World & Maritime World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, Mercedes-Benz and wasl while Dubai Duty Free, Carpetland and Motivate are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi's drive to showcase the emirate's vibrant golfin g scene to a worldwide audience.
Champions Challenge Tee Times on Tuesday, January 28:
11am: Mark James (England), Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Thomas Bjorn (Denmark)
11.10: Alvaro Quiros (Spain), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spain), Jose Coceres (Argentina)
11.20: Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain), Jose Maria Olazabal (Spain), Javier Ballesteros
11:30: Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland), Eamonn Darcy (Ireland), Richard Green (Australia)
11:40: Wayne Westner (South Africa), Robert Jan Derksen (The Netherlands), David Howell (England)
11:50: Ernie Els (South Africa), Mark O'Meara (US), Colin Montgomerie (Scotland)
12:00: Tiger Woods (US), Fred Couples (US), Stephen Gallacher (Scotland)