A wild finish to the season is expected as one of the strongest fields of the year gathers to watch the duel between Colin Montgomerie and Michael Campbell for the Order of Merit title.
Montgomerie, who the dunhill links championship a month ago, would dearly love to regain the Order of Merit title he owned for a record seven straight years from 1993 to 1999. The 42-year-old Scotsman has had quite a resurgence in 2005, with his aforementioned victory coming in front of his home country fans, a great showing at the Open Championship at St. Andrews where he finished second to Tiger Woods and nine other top-10 finishes.
Campbell, who missed the first five cuts to start the season, shocked the world by holding off Woods to win the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. He since has recorded three other top-6 finishes including a big win at the HSBC World Match Play Championships in September.
Joining Monty and Campbell will be a strong host country contingent made up of Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Olazabal is coming in fresh off his win at the Mallorca Classic, his first win in nearly three years. The victory vaulted the two-time Masters winner back inside the top-30 in the world rankings.
Garcia, who is the highest ranked player in the filed at No. 6, has had a so-so year by his standards. Although he picked up one win apiece on both sides of the Atlantic - the Booz Allen Classic in the U.S. and the Omega European Masters - another year has gone by without securing his first major title. He did have good showings at both the U.S. and British Opens, where is finished third and fifth respectively, but missed the cut at the Masters and was unable to muster a charge at the PGA Championship.
Other tops stars teeing it up in Spain will be Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and defending champion Ian Poulter.
Noticeably absent are European Tour stalwarts Retief Goosen and Ernie Els, who are ranked 3rd and 11th on the money list. Goosen remained in the United States to prepare for the PGA Tour's Tour Championship next week in Atlanta. Els, of course, is still on the mend following knee surgery.
The purse for the event is $4,720,886.
The Golf Channel will broadcast all four rounds live beginning Thursday at 9:30 a.m. (ET).