“I’ve not actually met him properly,” Willett said Tuesday at Emirates Golf Club. “You know, Ryder Cup was brief walking past but before that, you know, you see him to say ‘hello' but nothing really.”
The threesome tees off on the 10th hole Thursday at 8:15 a.m. local time (11:15 p.m. ET Wednesday) and will go off the first hole Friday at 12:35 p.m. local time (3:25 a.m. ET).
Willett won here last year before going on the win the Masters, but is coming off a missed cut last week in Abu Dhabi. Woods is coming off a missed cut at the Farmers Insurance Open last week. He will take next week off, then play the Genesis Open and Honda Classic in consecutive weeks.
“My first memories of him are chipping in at 16 on Augusta (in the 2005 Masters),” Willett said. “It was almost like the perfect advert for that tournament. I remember that shot that he played over millions and millions of times, him and Stevie (Williams) going crazy and the cameras shaking and the ball just dropping in.
“It’s them moments I think he created for guys that are my kind of age. That really spurred them on to train harder and to practice harder and to try and accomplish even a miniscule amount of what he has.”
Golf Channel will air the first round of the event, beginning at 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Round 2 coverage can be seen at 2:30 a.m. on Friday.