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Rory & Tiger to Make Season Debut in Abu Dhabi
After completing their first Nike ad together, Tiger Woods and Rory McIroy have now headed to the Middle East for each player's season debut. The two will be the undisputed main attractions for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, a $2.7 million European Tour event that starts Thursday at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
McIroy, the clear No. 1-ranked player in the world at the end of 2012, and No. 2 Woods are among 124 players in the tournament. Also in the field is defending champion Robert Rock. The Englishman entered last year's final round tied with Woods for the lead and, while playing in the last group, posted a 2-under 70 to edge Woods, who shot an even-par 72.
Now equipped with new Nike clubs, which will pay an estimated $200 million to $250 million over a 10-year contract and he's had several chances to test out before his first competition, McIlroy is ready to go in his season opener. "I've had a nice break over Christmas and the New Year, but it's back to business now," the 23-year-old Northern Irishman told reporters.
"Abu Dhabi is a great place to start the season, as it's one of my favorite tournaments. This is the sixth time I will have played the tournament, and I've always done pretty well here in the past. In the last four years, I have had two second-place finishes, a third and a fifth, so I know it's a golf course that really suits my game.
"I'm looking forward to getting my 2013 season off and running, and hopefully I can carry my momentum over from last year into this one. Last year was obviously an amazing season for me and it's going to be tough to top it, but I feel refreshed and excited about the year ahead."
Also in the field are major champions Ernie Els, Martin Kaymer, Darren Clarke, Paul Lawrie, Paul Hamilton and Jose Maria Olazabal. Kaymer has won the tournament three of the past five years. American Jason Dufner is also in Abu Dhabi this week.
Nike's new advertisement with McIlroy and Woods shows the two players on a golf course hitting incredible shots in a show of one-upmanship. Called "No Cup is Safe," the duo tries to outdo each other by smacking balls into drinking glasses and soup bowls, smashing windows if necessary. The two trade playful jabs ("Dude, is that your real hair?" asks Tiger) and competitive camaraderie.
To see the clip, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2NCDYjHtEcU.