Top golfers from around the world have gathered in the United Arab Emirates for the Dubai Desert Classic tournament which tees off on Thursday.

World No. 1 Tiger Woods of the United States is expected to be one of the top contenders, following a dominating season-opening performance in his eight-stroke victory Sunday at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines in California. It was his fourth consecutive win counting back to last year.

Woods says he is ready to go after a 10-week winter break and feels good as he continues his preparations for the year's first major at the Masters in early April. He says he feels fresh and is excited about getting back out and playing.

Henrik Stenson of Sweden is the defending champion at the Dubai Desert Classic - he beat South African Ernie Els by one shot and finished two in front of Woods in 2007. Tiger won the event in 2006 by beating Els in a playoff.

Other top contenders include Qatar Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia, Sergio Garcia of Spain and Britain's Colin Montgomerie.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP.