The world’s top two players, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, have confirmed they will take part in the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January.

Woods has chosen to play the first event of the European Tour’s desert swing, staged from January 17-20, instead of participating in the PGA Tour’s Humana Challenge at Torrey Pines.

“I really enjoyed my time in Abu Dhabi and I wanted to return, particularly as I played well and came so close last year,” said the 14-time major champion, who played in the final group with eventual winner Robert Rock last year.

 “I had heard so much about Abu Dhabi in the past and I was very impressed by the crowds, the organisation and the overall atmosphere.

“I would love nothing more than to win in January and start the season in the best possible way.”

McIlroy, who announced this week he plans to trim his schedule for 2013, is relishing the prospect of returning to the Middle East.

“I have come close a few times in Abu Dhabi now. Hopefully it’s my turn,” he said.

“This will be the first time I have headed to Abu Dhabi as world number one and I am determined to keep the wins coming and cement my ranking.”

One the prospect of a head-to-head duel with Woods, he added: “I have made no secret of the fact he is a hero of mine, and there is nothing better than tussling with your heros.”