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Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Top pairing will provide great show


There are plenty of topics the current top three players in the Official World Golf Ranking -- Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Tiger Woods -- might discuss during their opening 36 holes together at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Such as recent results. The trio has totaled six victories in the past 12 months, but four of those have come from Kaymer, including the recent Abu Dhabi Championship. Westwood and Woods, on the other hand, have combined for finishes of T-44, T-64 and MC so far this season.

Or maybe major championships. Woods remains stuck on 14 for his career and Kaymer won the most recent one, but Westwood is one of four players to have reached the top spot in the rankings without first claiming a major. The other three each did so within two years.

Or even the OWGR itself. In this week's edition of "As the World [Ranking] Turns," it's worth noting that Kaymer can ascend to No. 1 with a victory, but Woods can only climb as high as No. 2. Meanwhile, the latter joins Phil Mickelson as the only non-European players currently inside the top seven on the list.

Or -- ahem -- failed business ventures. Note to Westwood and Kaymer: If Woods starts talking about a "great investment opportunity in Dubai," just nod your head politely.

Chances are, though, each player will simply be concentrating on his own game for the first two rounds, trying to outduel his fellow superstars. While none of the three will fess up publicly to wanting to prove himself in this ultimate litmus test, they all know the eyes of the world will be focused directly on their threesome.

Not that they'll admit to having any extra motivation.

"I think we shouldn't really see it as a rivalry," Kaymer said Tuesday. "We are out here to have fun and play good golf and show the people that we do our job with passion and love. It's not about winning or losing in the end of the day. It's about challenging each other and having fun."

If the grouping will be fun for the players, it should be downright enthralling for fans, who will get an opportunity to watch the world's three top-ranked players in the same threesome for the first time since Woods drew Mickelson and Adam Scott during the early rounds of the 2008 U.S. Open.

Already this season the PGA Tour has revised a long-standing policy and attempted to produce a handful of "featured groups" at its tournaments. It's nice to see the European Tour -- which never alluded to any such rule -- also see the benefit of creating attractive groups for on-course observers and television viewers.

And there isn't a more intriguing one right now than the Westwood-Kaymer-Woods group we'll see in Dubai for the opening two rounds.

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn.com.