Frazzled previews the 2016 Trophee Hassan from the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam venue in Rabat, Morrocco.
The European Tour moves closer to the mainland this week after two weeks in China, as the Trophee Hassan takes place at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam venue in Rabat, Morrocco. This venue was used in 2010 when the event was first included as a European Tour event, but was staged at the Golf Du Palais Royal for the past 5 years, so we have little in the way of course form to examine.
The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones and is a 7,487 Yard Par 72 venue that is laid to kikuyu grass fairways and rough and small saucer like bentgrass greens that are expected to run to a relatively slow 10 on the stimpmeter. There are numerous doglegs and lots of bunkering, so while power will be an asset, we are essentially looking at accurate tee to green players, especially players that are very solid with their irons.
This looks a really weak event and with the likes of Alexander Levy, Julien Quesne, Gregory Bourdy and Romain Wattel, all near the top of the market, but coming off two weeks in China, it might pay to look a little further down the market for players that might be a little bit fresher than the French contingent.
Wattel was second in this event last year, so he does still make some appeal at the prices, given that he was not really in the heat of battle in China and did not have the type of torunaments that Levy had. Levy looked jaded by the end of the China Open and fell away with a closing 72, but Wattel finished strongly with a 67 and he may well see this low grade event as one in which he can finally shed his maiden tag and live up to the promise that he has shown in the past.
He is having a reasonable season, with his 15th last week in China following on from a 6th in the Perth International and 18th in the Alfred Dunhill Championship, but this is a player that has been 3rd in the Desert Classic, 3rd in the Lyoness Open, 2nd in the European Masters and 3rd in the Johnnie Walker at Gleneagles and he really should be at a higher level now than 223 in the World. The positives from some of these results are that he is a solid player in the wind and these his form in the European Masters, where the greens are upturned saucers and very small, suggests that this is a course that could suit his game very well. He ranks 44th in GIR this season and 70th in Driving Accuracy, while he is 67th in Driving Distance. These are the tools needed for this week and with an early tee time tomorrow, hopefully he can make a fast start and build some momentum towards Sunday and a maiden European Tour title. He is our only bet at the top of the market and we will also have an interest in the First Round Leader market.
2 points each way Romain Wattel at 25/1 with Betfred, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes
1 point each way Romain Wattel - FRL at 33/1 with Betfred, Paddy Power and Coral
While we are dealing with form at a lower level, there are two golfers that we will have some interest in at big prices this week, that have got some very decent form at this venue. These are Ross McGowan and Eduardo Espana. They have both played this course on the MENA Tour, which hosted the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam Open from 2013 to 2015.
Ross McGowan won the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam Open in 2015 and he was 2nd in the same event the previous year. This provides him with a significant course experience advantage, but there are also other positives for him this week. He is a former European Tour winner, winning the 2009 Madrid Masters, but while he is not the same golfer as he was then, he is still showing plenty of signs that he can compete indecent fields at the right venues. This venue looks like it very much suits him and this is one of the weakest fields that will be assembled on the Tour this year. McGowan has two Top 10 finishes on the European Tour this season, which are 10th in the Joburg Open and 12th in the South Africa Open. Both these venues have fairways and rough, laid to kikuyu grass, which is the same as this week and his most recent finish in South Africa was 3rd to George Coetzee and Dean Burmeister in the Dimension Data Pro-am, where he was beaten by just 3 shots. This is played on a number of courses including Fancourt Links, which is a coastal links style venue with kikuyu grass fairways and bentgrass greens like this week. The form at coastal venues is the other positive for McGowan, given that he has won the Estoril Challenge De Portugal and the Oceanico Developments Pro-am Challenge. Both of these are at coastal venues and he finished 5th in the European Tour Final Qualifying Stage at the PGA Catalunya Resort. He would not normally be a player on our radar, but in this field he looks worth an interest in both the outright and Top 20 markets.
Edouard Espana is a much riskier proposition, as he has shown very little this season, but he won the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam Open in 2014 and the return to this venue might speak a revival in his fortunes. He is coming here on the back of numerous missed cuts, but the last cut he made was at the coastal Villamoura venue, when he was 9th in the Portugal Masters. In 2015 he mixed poor displays with some very good ones and his 2nd in the Open De Espana last year was an excellent performance, which followed some very moderate displays, as did his 16th in the Lyoness Open. All of these solid efforts were in field vastly superior to this week's and he is worth just a small interest in bith the win and Top 20 markets. We have to be prepared for a possible early end to our investment here, but he has then course form and if he is going to produce anything this season, this looks as good a place as any to turn things around.
1 point each way Ross McGowan at 100/1 with Paddy Power, Stan James and Coral
1.5 points win Ross McGowan - Top 20 Finish at 9/2 with Paddy Power and Betfred
0.5 points each way Edouard Espana at 300/1 with Betfred and Coral
0.5 points win Edouard Espana - Top 20 Finish at 9/1 with Paddy Power, Coral and Betfred