McIlroy back at No 6 - drawn with Eamonn Darcy for Champions Challenge
 A 16-year old Rory McIlroy watches Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn in a pre-tournament exhibition in Dubai in 2006. McIlroy missed the cut in the tournament that week by a stroke.

A 16-year old Rory McIlroy watches Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn in a pre-tournament exhibition in Dubai in 2006. McIlroy missed the cut in the tournament that week by a stroke.

Rory McIlroy has returned to No 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking ahead of this week's 25th anniversary Omega Dubai Desert Classic and his first meeting of the season with world No 1 Tiger Woods.

Former No 1 McIlroy swapped places with American Zach Johnson as Graeme McDowell, who does not return to action until the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am next week, slipped one place to 17th.

 Eamonn Darcy

Eamonn Darcy

McIlroy will tee it up alongside Delgany's Eamonn Darcy, the 1990 Dubai Desert Classic champion, and 1997 winner Richard Green in the pre-tournament Champions Challenge on the Majalis Course at the Emirates Club tomorrow.

The $600,00 mini tournament is part of the tournament's 25th anniversary celebrations and features 20 Dubai Desert Classic past champions as well as Spain's Javier Ballesteros, who has been extended a special invitation in honour of his late father, Seve, who was champion in 1992.

Darcy will get the chance to take on McIlroy, Woods and European No 1 Henrik Stenson with the winner taking home $300,000, the runner up $200,000 and third place $100,000.

Champions Challenge Draw, Tuesday 28th January
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 (2006/8), Fred Couples (1995), Stephen Gallacher (2013)

As for the latest world rankings, Sergio Garcia is back into the Top-10 for the first time since November 2009 with his victory in the Qatar Masters moving him up  two spots to ninth, 

Scott Stallings jumped from 112th to 53rd thanks to his win in the Farmer's Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

Shane Lowry has fallen from 76th at the end of 2013 to 89th this week after missing his first two cuts in 2014.

Pádraig Harrington, who is in Phoenix for the Waste Management Open this week, is 130th.

Other Irish include Michael Hoey (223rd), Darren Clarke (282nd), Simon Thornton (up 15 to 264th), Peter Lawrie (318th), Damien McGrane (356th), David Higgins (373rd), Paul McGInley (376th) and Gareth Maybin (404th).

McIlroy, Hoey, Lowry, Thornton, McGrane, Maybin and Lawrie are all teeing it up in Dubai this week.