The European Tour is cordially invited into the kings quarters this week for the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco, staged at the Golf du Palais Royal in Agadir.
The tournament has a special, inclusive feel, as the course is inside the palace walls. To successfully storm the parapets, golfers must be ruthless on the greens – the top two in the putts per greens in regulation stats last year both rewarded each-way backers while six of the top eight on the final leaderboard, including the winner Marcel Siem, ranked in the top 11.
Recent tour winners George Coetzee and Ross Fisher, both 14/1, dispute favouritism, with the South African perhaps the better equipped of the two to trouble the judge.
Having broken his European maiden tag last month, he could easily go in again, but it’s interesting he hasn’t posted a sub 70 strokeplay score since his victory in Johannesburg, while Fisher is a newbie to this idiosyncratic venue, that mixes parkland holes with those affected by Atlantic gusts. Both, therefore, are left off the staking plan.
Course form could be key, and if that is the case, David Horsey just has to be backed at 16/1. The Englishman has Golf du Palais Royal numbers of 1-14-2, while recent 10th and third place efforts in his latest two starts, the latter in the Africa Open where he ranked 16th for putting average, ticks the current form box.
By finishing second in Qatar and fifth in Dubai, Mikko Ilonen (16/1) achieved his first target of the season – getting into the WGC Matchplay. But although things didn’t go to plan at Dove Mountain, with a first round exit, the Finn should be backed to console himself with victory in Morocco. Ilonen, who ranked 10th in putting on his last European Tour start, came close to winning this tournament last year, when runner up to Siem, and he was seventh in Agadir on debut in 2011.
Last year Edoardo Molinari, 33/1, got caught on the wrong side of the draw at Golf du Palais Royal, but still managed to make the cut after a Thursday 81 in the worst of the blustery conditions. On his previous start, the Italian was sixth and, with his injury problems now behind him, there is every chance we could see the sort of form that saw Molinari, who has posted two top tens in his last three appearances, make the 2010 Ryder Cup team.
My three to follow – Horsey, Ilonen and Molinari.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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