It is always tough for the European Tour at this time of the season. Many of the Tour’s biggest stars are plying their trade over in America with a host of big PGA Tour events going on over the next couple of weeks. So, instead of fighting fire with fire the European Tour’s organisers have chosen to put on some unique tournaments and it is fair to say that the Trophee Hassan II is unique.
Named after the former king of Morocco, the tournament is still hosted by royalty with His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid providing a royal presence this week. He will be presenting the trophy after four day’s play around the Red Course at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Agadir. The venue for Rhys Davies’ win in 2010, the Red Course is a long test of golf that can play as long as 7,487 yards.
The Robert Trent Jones-designed track has small, undulating greens which are normally difficult targets to hit. However, the weather forecast is for yet another rain affected four days on the European Tour. That may frustrate the poor caddies but it should at least ensure some aggressive golf. Approach shots are going to stop dead and this is really a place where you can give it a good whack off the tee. The fairways are fairly wide already but with wet Kikuyu grass providing next to no roll they will be very easy to hit, setting up some good approach shots and birdie opportunities.
Alexander Levy is the bookies’ favourite for the event and for good reason. The Frenchman is a two time European Tour winner and is in decent form at the moment. He displayed some top quality ball striking in Valderrama and at both the Shenzhen International and Volvo China Open and amongst a weaker quality of field he should be able to take the Trophee Hassan II by the scruff of the neck. Levy goes off at 14/1 with Ladbrokes which looks a fair price for a player of his quality.
The one major concern for Levy is fatigue. This is his fourth tournament in as many weeks and he has clocked up plenty of air miles in that time. Andrew Johnston, on the other hand, will turn up to Agadir relaxed, refreshed and ready to play. The Englishman’s last appearance was at Valderrama where he picked up his maiden European Tour win. ‘Beef’ is full of confidence and has the power for the Red Course so back him at 25/1 with BetVictor.
There is not much previous course form to go on but one player who enjoyed his last trip to Royal Golf Dar Es Salam is Robert Rock. The 39-year-old has not won since 2012 but these sort of events often throw up winners who have spent a long time out of the limelight. Through his academy, Rock teaches young players about what it takes to make it on the European Tour and having turned in some decent performances this season he could show his students that he can walk the walk by winning at odds of 40/1 with Betfred.