"The Whirlwind", who won the tournament in 1984. has dropped out of the world's top 16 but remains a crowd favourite. He will open against Mark King, who will be making his first appearance in the competition, on 7 February.
The other wild card went to the world No 61, David Gray, who beat Dave Harold to win the Benson and Hedges Championship last month.
The defending champion, Mark Williams, who beat Stephen Hendry 10-9 on the final black in last year's final, will open his defence against Nigel Bond in the second round, while Hendry will launch his bid for a seventh B&H title against Malta's Tony Drago.
In Dublin on Sunday night, Mark Williams carried off the last title of 1998. He defeated Alan McManus 9-4 in the final of the Irish Open, a victory worth pounds 50,000 to the 23-year-old left-hander. He has now won five major titles, including the Benson and Hedges Masters, which he defends in February.Reuse content