The European Tour heads to North Africa this week for the Trophée Hassan II at the Golf du Palais Royal in Agadir, Morocco. Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey is defending champion.

A strong field has assembled for this, the final European Tour event prior to the US Masters at Augusta. Both Molinari brothers (Francesco and Edoardo) will tee it up, so too will Rafa Cabrera Bello and Pablo Larrazabal of Spain as well as Scots, Stephen Gallacher and Scott Jamieson.

The Trophée Hassan II is Morocco’s longest running sports event. It was first contested in 1971 and has been won by nine different Major champions over the years, including Lee Trevino, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Padraig Harrington.

Despite its heritage, this is only the fourth season the event has been part of the official European Tour schedule. The winners since 2010 have all been British – Rhys Davies of Wales, England’s David Horsey and then Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland last season. In that event, Hoey closed with a superb 65 that included three birdies in his last five holes. Those were enough to keep Ireland’s Damien McGrane at bay.

Jamie Donaldson of Wales closed with a 61 to take third place. He came home in just 28 strokes, nine holes that included four birdies and two eagles!

The Golf du Palais Royal is located within the walls of the Royal Palace of Agadir. Outside of the tournament week it’s only used by King Mohammed VI and his guests.

Michael Hoey has expressed his excitement at a return to the impressive venue.

“The golf course only gets only a handful of games every year, so it’s very exclusive,” he said. “The condition of it is awesome and it feels like a James Bond setting. You can see the palace from some of the holes and you try to see what’s going on, but the security is always pretty tight.”

Besides a cheque for €250,000, the winner of this tournament is presented with a jewel-encrusted gold dagger – A prize that’s extremely valuable in its own right.

Golf du Palais Royal, Agadir, Morocco
Date: Mar 28-31
Course stats: par 72, 6,844 yards
Purse: €1,500,000 Winner: €250,000
Defending Champion: Michael Hoey (-17)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 28 – Sky Sports 1 from 11am
Friday 29 – Sky Sports 1 from 11am
Saturday 30 – Sky Sports 1 from 11am
Sunday 31 – Sky Sports 1 from 11am

Player Watch:
David Howell – The Englishman has been one of the most consistent performers on the 2013 European Tour. He’s made the cut in every event he’s started and has three top 10s to his name, including a tied sixth last week.

Scott Jamieson – Currently fourth in the Race to Dubai, Jamieson has won and finished runner-up so far this season. He’s made the cut in his last three starts and has been playing solid golf.

Edoardo Molinari – He’s been in desperate form this year until last week in Malaysia where he finished alone in second place. He’ll look to use that as a springboard to go on and claim a win this week.

Key hole: 17th. A par-5 of just 511 yards, this will be reachable for every player in the field. It will provide the opportunity of some significant leaps up the leaderboard late in the day on Sunday.

Where next?
PGA Tour –
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