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Tiger Woods plays Dubai Desert Classic after long absence

Tiger Woods has been out of the game for so long, many are looking to see how he performs against Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer in the Dubai Desert Classic. Tiger Woods tees off on Thursday.

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Tiger Woods plays a shot on the 8th hole during the Pro-Am at the Emirates Golf Club a day ahead of Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday.

Kamran Jebreili/AP

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Tiger Woods will discover just how far his game has slipped when he joins Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer in a mouth-watering matching of golf's top-ranked three players in the Dubai Desert Classic starting Thursday.

Woods was overtaken by Briton Westwood at the end of last year and then the mercurial 26-year-old German Kaymer, the U.S. PGA champion, in January at the summit of golf's world rankings.

The American's swing as well as his private life fell apart last year following allegations of multiple infidelities which cost him his marriage and a chunk of the 2010 season.

Dubai marks Woods' second tournament of the year and his suspect technique will be right back under the microscope after he finished 44th last week in the Farmers Insurance Open after closing rounds of 74 and 75.

Westwood, for one, cannot wait for the chance to go head to head against a man who had dominated the sport virtually unchallenged since the late 1990s until his fall from grace last year, picking up 14 Majors along the way.

Woods has won the Desert Classic twice, in 2006 and 2008.

It is the first time in 17 years that the world's top three ranked golfers have competed in a regular European Tour tournament.

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