The Trophee Hassan II returns to Royal Golf Dar Es Salam this week. It played as a Par 73 in 2010 when Rhys Davies won the event at -25. When they finally returned to the course last year, it functioned as a longer Par 72 but has changed back to a Par 73 for this year.
It now plays about three hundred yards longer than it did in 2010 and the changes last year (along with the weather) made for a much tougher course. Even with the return to a Par 73 (and better weather) it seems unlikely that we’ll see another winning score of -25.
A cursory glance at last year’s stats tells you what it takes to contend here. If you can putt well then you’ll likely find yourself in the mix on Sunday. At 7,615 yards, driving distance could turn out to be reasonably important but it isn’t the most key stat.
Finally, what I’ve looked at is performance in tough events. Even if the winning score is slightly lower than it was last year, I still think the Red Course will provide a tough test. Jeunghun Wang and Nacho Elvira, who contested the playoff last year, both missed the cut in their previous events so don’t rule anyone out based on poor recent results.
The field is not really of the highest quality but Jeunghun Wang does look good towards the front of the market. The only thing that worries me is that he’s defending a title for the first time ever and it’s tough to know how he’ll react. For that reason I’ll leave him out and look a little further down.
Robert Rock has a great record at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam. At 100/1, even if he’s not quite at his best right now, I think he has to be considered. Rock MC’d in his last start before finishing 3rd at this event last year so the MC last time out doesn’t worry me too much. The 40-year-old has won twice on the European Tour but he still has the game to win a few more. Playing on this course in this field may just be his best chance.
Next up is Nino Bertasio at 125/1. I don’t know how tough the course will play this week but with Nino Bertasio, the harder the better. Of the last four events on the European Tour that have had a winning score of -8 or higher, Bertasio has finished in the Top 12 in three of them. His best finish in those events was his Top 5 in Morocco last year. The Italian is a great putter and has proven he can go at this course, if he can pick his game up a bit then I think he can go well this week.
Finally, I’ll take a shot on Chris Paisley at 150/1. Arriving in Morocco off the back of six consecutive cuts made, Paisley is a great putter who has two Top 5s in his last fifteen starts on the European Tour. There’s not much more to it than that. A very solid putter who’s playing well right now and could pick up his first European Tour win in a weakened field.