Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Tiger Woods are the world's leading three players according to the World Rankings and all three are not only in the tournament but will play their opening two rounds together. They play late on day one and early on day two.
Westwood has yet to win this event although last year he did finish runner-up to Miguel Angel Jimenez after a three hole playoff. Kaymer too has yet to win in Dubai although he has been second, fourth and fourth in his last three starts in this event.
Woods on the other hand has been a two time winner, the last victory coming three years ago when he won narrowly over Kaymer. Woods has been otherwise occupied in the last two years but he returns to Dubai after an indifferent tournament at Torrey Pines looking to find the game which saw him win in 2008 and in 2006 when defeating Ernie Els in a playoff.
Kaymer was a little disappointing last week in Qatar but he had won in Abu Dhabi two weeks before and with a good record on this golf course his attempt to wrestle the number one mantle from Westwood will be a tournament within a tournament.
While so much of the focus will be on the 12.20 three-ball on day one, there are many others who no doubt feel they have a great opportunity to spoil the party. Former winner Rory McIlroy is one.
McIlroy returned to tournament golf in 2011 with a very impressive runner-up finish to Kaymer in Abu Dhabi and his remarkable record in his last five starts worldwide could well continue. The Northern Irishman has not finished outside the top six in those tournaments which have included the strongest of fields. McIlroy finished 6th last year in this tournament in addition to his win in 2009. He has a great chance of upstaging the marquee trio.
Alvaro Quiros is another who always seems to play well in this part of the world. He finished 6th in this event last year, has won and been runner-up at the Qatar Masters in his last three starts there and finished 3rd at the Dubai World Championship late last year. He is in very good form and is a genuine contender.
Miguel Angel Jimenez was blown away by the winds of Doha last week but as the defending champion and as a player who finished runner-up two weeks ago in Bahrain he must be respected.
The Australasian challenge is headed by a former winner of this event, Richard Green. Green did not play last week in Qatar but did well enough in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain for him to be some sort of chance. Not only did he win this event in 1997 but in 2006 he led Woods and Els into the 72nd hole only to take bogey and allow Woods and Els to edge ahead and establish a playoff.
Green is joined by fellow Australians Andrew Dodt, Scott Strange and Brett Rumford while New Zealanders Michael Campbell, Danny Lee and Mark Brown add further strength to the Australasian numbers.