The European Tour travels to Africa this week for the Trophée Hassan II at Golf du Palais Royal and Golf de L’Océan in Morocco. Rhys Davies of Wales defends the title.
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, last season was the first time it was part of the official European Tour schedule. Rhys Davies of Wales was the winner at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam. He finished two clear of South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen who went on to win the Open Championship later in the year.
The tournament is being held over two different courses for the first two days – the Golf du Palais Royal and the Golf de L’Océan. These rounds will be played to a pro-am format. On the weekend, the final two rounds will be contested over the Golf du Palais Royal.
As the Masters kicks off next week, a number of the European Tour’s leading lights are missing from this event. But a strong field has assembled nevertheless. Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Simon Dyson will all tee it up.
Venue: Golf du Palais Royal and Golf de L’Océan, Agadir, Morocco
Date: March 31 – April 3
Course stats: Palais Royal – par 72, 6,844 yards; Golf de L’Océan – par 71, 6,799 yards
Purse: €1,500,000, Winner: €250,000
Defending Champion: Rhys Davies (-25)
Thursday 31 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 1pm
Friday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 1pm
Saturday 2 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 2pm
Sunday 3 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 2pm
Rhys Davies – The defending champion will be hoping that competing in an event he won last year will spark a return to the form he showed through the middle part of 2010. His results so far this season have been disappointing but this event could just act as a springboard.
Christian Nilsson – The Swede was 7th last week in Spain and finished tied for 7th in this tournament last year. He’s got to be one to watch this week.
Chris Wood – He started the year well with a second place finish in the Africa Open and recorded another top-10 in the Dubai Desert Classic. He’s been finding plenty of greens in regulation this season but his putting has let him down a little. If he can get the flat-stick going, he’ll contend 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.
Skills required: Adapting. Two different courses, a pro-am format – this will be a little different from the standard European Tour event. The winner will keep his focus to get the job done.