The field is made up of a who's-who of the European Ryder Cup team - Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, David Howell, Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson.
Els and Woods will add another chapter to their well-documented history together as they face off again in Dubai. Last season, Tiger birdied the final two holes to catch the front-running Els to force a playoff. And much like the many times they've gone head-to-head before, Woods proved triumphant on the first extra hole.
But don't feel too bad for the Big Easy as his record in this event is simply awesome. In his nine starts he has visited the winner's circle three times, has a pair of second- and third-place showings, and has never finished worse than eighth. Starting from 2002, he has gone win, second, T-3, win, playoff loss to Woods.
'Everyone knows how much I love this week in Dubai. The Desert Classic is one of my favorite tournaments of the year and my record in this event always gives me a lot of confidence,' said Els on his website. 'And its great to see Tiger out here again. Hes been the best player ever since he came out here and its always a pleasure to compete against the best and try to beat the best. If I can go one better than last year, it would be great!'
The man loves Dubai.
But so, too, does his arch nemesis, Tiger. In only three starts, Tiger has a win, a T-2 and a T-5. It will be interesting to see if these two giants of the game can reprise their duel of last season.
As for the others in the field, Tiger and Ernie will have their hands full trying to fend off guys like Garcia, Casey and Stenson.
Casey recently won the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the first leg of the European Tour's trip around the Persian Gulf region. The victory for Casey was a follow-up to his big win at the HSBC Match Play last September where he demolished Shaun Micheel, 10-8, in the finals.
Other big names teeing it up in the desert are Greg Norman, Ian Poulter, Mark O'Meara, Stuart Appleby and Thomas Bjorn. Bjorn knocked off Woods in the 2001 event despite Tiger holding the 54-hole lead. O'Meara won the title here in 2004, his only victory since the British Open in 1998.
Golf Channel will televise all four rounds beginning Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET, with a prime time repeat of each round starting at 6:30 p.m.