ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Tiger Woods is moving from Dubai's showcase tournament to make his debut in Abu Dhabi.
The tournament also will feature three of this year's major winners in the field -- Charl Schwartzel (Masters), Rory McIlroy (U.S. Open) and Darren Clarke (British Open) -- vying for the $2.7 million prize. Former No. 1 Lee Westwood also will play in the tournament.
Adding Woods is seen as a coup for Abu Dhabi in its rivalry with the Dubai Desert Classic, where Woods has been a mainstay for years. Tournament manager Faisal al-Sheikh boasted that the "giants of golf" are coming to Abu Dhabi.
Tournament organizers said in their statement that the Abu Dhabi event will be Woods' only Middle East tournament in 2012, meaning he will not play in next year's Desert Classic.
In last February's Desert Classic, Woods finished tied for 20th. He also was fined an undisclosed amount for spitting on a green in the final round.
By playing overseas, Woods will be eschewing what had become his traditional starting point to his PGA Tour season.
From 2006-08, Woods started tournament play in the United States at Torrey Pines and won the event each of those years. In 2009 he began his season later due to knee surgery and in 2010 the Masters was his PGA Tour opener due to his self-imposed exile after a much-publicized sex scandal. He finished tied for 44th at Torrey Pines this year.
The 2012 Farmers Insurance Open also is scheduled to be played from Jan. 26-29.
"I'm looking forward to 2012 and what I hope will be a great year of golf for me. I've always enjoyed playing in HSBC events around the world, so I have been interested in including the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in my schedule for some time," Woods said in the statement. "I am also intrigued to spend time in Abu Dhabi. Visiting new places is one of the things I really enjoy about being a professional golfer."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.