Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy committed to their first event of 2013 on Wednesday and, surprise, they'll be teeing it up at the same tournament, after Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship officials confirmed the top two players in the world would be starting the season in the Middle East Jan. 17-20.
"This will be the first time I have headed to Abu Dhabi as world number one, and I am determined to keep the wins coming and cement my ranking," McIlroy was quoted as saying on the tournament's website. "The strength of field means there will be a ton of world-ranking points on offer, so Abu Dhabi will be a really significant tournament that sets the tone for the year."
The Dubai Desert Classic used to be the top golf event in the Middle East, but over the last few years, the balance of power has shifted to the $2.7 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Woods and McIlroy played the event last year, so their commitments likely didn't come as a huge surprise. After all, there's nothing better than kicking off the 2013 season with a brocation at the same tournament.
McIlroy opened 2012 in Abu Dhabi and Dubai -- his first professional win came at the Dubai Desert Classic -- and likely could keep both tournaments on the schedule for the upcoming season.
Woods' schedule, however, is a completely different story. As opposed to years past, the 14-time major winner decided to open his 2012 season in the Middle East and skip the Farmers Insurance Open, a tournament he's won six times, for the first time in his career when he was healthy.
With Farmers Insurance Open once again backing up to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Woods has a decision to make. Does he play back-to-back weeks and take the long flight from Abu Dhabi to San Diego? Or does he once again skip out and start the PGA Tour season at, say, Pebble Beach? Given Woods' success at Torrey Pines, it's difficult to see him passing on the event for the second straight year.