Tiger and Rory schedule first date for 2013 in the desert
By Stephanie Wei under Rory McIlroy

That awkward moment when...you aren't sure if he is trying to hold hands

No, I’m not talking about the Bob Hope Classic the Humana Challenge in Palm Springs, California.

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, the top-two players in the world, both committed to kicking off their 2013 season on the other side of the world at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in the Middle East January 17-20, according to the tournament’s official website (and numerous other media outlets).

“Confirming Rory and Tiger, the world’s top two players and a duo with well-documented respect and admiration for each other’s talents, represents a significant coup and demonstrates how far the Championship has come in its relatively short history,” said Faisal Al Sheikh, Event Manager, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), the Championship organiser.

“Rory and Tiger are true giants of the game and represent only our opening salvo – we are actively working to bring another world-class field to Abu Dhabi and further player announcements will be made in coming weeks.”

Rory and Tiger both started their seasons at this event earlier in 2012, where they finished second and third, respectively.

“I’ve come close a few times in Abu Dhabi now – hopefully it’s my turn,” McIlroy said. “This will be the first time I’ve headed to Abu Dhabi as world number one and I’m determined to keep the wins coming and cement my ranking.

“The strength of the field means there will be a ton of world ranking points on offer so Abu Dhabi will be a really significant tournament that sets the tone for the year. I had a great tussle with Tiger nine months ago and I’m sure he’ll be in contention again. We’ve spent a lot of time playing together this year and it’s always fun challenging the best. I’ve made no secret of the fact he’s a hero of mine and there’s nothing better than tussling with your heroes.”

The world No. 1 and 2 fell victim to Robert Rock this past January.

Tiger and Rory will also both receive the standard seven-figure appearance fee for playing in Abu Dhabi.

This year’s event was held the same week as the Farmers Insurance Open, where Tiger had traditionally kicked off his season — which means he can fly back in time to play at Torrey Pines to make his PGA Tour debut. No word yet on his commitments past Abu Dhabi.

You know how it goes … follow the money.

(Getty Images/Warren Little)