STEPHEN Gallacher, the title-holder, has been grouped with Tiger Woods and Fred Couples in the Champions’ Challenge being held in a fortnight’s time to mark the 25th anniversary of the Dubai Desert Classic.
It’s a dream draw in the event’s parade of former winners for the Bathgate golfer, who has never played professionally with either world No 1 Woods or former Masters champion Couples.
When they were amateurs, he locked horns with Woods in the 1995 Walker Cup at Royal Porthcawl, where Gallacher and Gordon Sherry went down to Woods and John Harris in the opening match of the contest.
“It’s always good to be drawn with the world’s No 1 to see how he plays and to watch his attitude and course management,” said Gallacher, who joined Woods, a two-times winner in 2006 and 2008, and 1995 champion Couples on the event’s roll of honour with a three-shot triumph at the Emirates Golf Club just under 12 months ago.
“For me, Couples is a legend. I watched and liked him as a kid while Damian Moore, my regular caddie, really admires him, too, so I am delighted.”
Colin Montgomerie, the 1996 winner, will have Ernie Els and Mark O’Meara for company in the 18-hole event, which features all the past winners with the exception of the late Seve Ballesteros. To honour the Spaniard’s success in 1992, however, the organisers have handed a special invitation to his son Javier, who will play with compatriots in Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Others competing for a $600,000 prize fund – half of which goes to the winner – include last year’s Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup winner Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy.
Of the players taking part, only Englishman Mark James, winner of the inaugural event in 1989, is not competing in the main tournament starting two weeks on Thursday.
11:00 Mark James (1989), Henrik Stenson (2007), Thomas Bjorn (2001).
11:10 Alvaro Quiros (2011), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (2012), Jose Coceres (2000).
11:20 Miguel Angel Jimenez (2010), Jose Maria Olazabal (1998), Javier Ballesteros.
11:30 Rory McIlroy (2009), Eamonn Darcy (1990), Richard Green (1997).
11:40 Wayne Westner (1993), Robert-Jan Derkson (2003), David Howell (1999).
11:50 Ernie Els (1994/2002/2005), Mark O’Meara (2004), Colin Montgomerie (1996).
12:00 Tiger Woods (2006/2008), Fred Couples (1995), Stephen Gallacher (2013).