Trophee Hassan II: Tournament preview

Alejandro Cañizares is defending champion at the Trophee Hassan II

Alejandro Canizares defends Trophee Hassan II
Alejandro Canizares defends Trophee Hassan II
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The European Tour heads to North Africa this week for the Trophée Hassan II at the Golf du Palais Royal in Agadir, Morocco. Spain’s Alejandro Cañizares is the defending champion.

Lowdown: The European Tour heads to North Africa this week for the Trophée Hassan II at the Golf du Palais Royal in Agadir, Morocco. Spain’s Alejandro Cañizares is the defending champion.

A strong field has assembled for the event with entrants including, Alexander Levy of France and Englishmen Andy Sullivan and Tommy Fleetwood. All of whom are hoping to secure a late invite to the U.S. Masters.

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, this is only the sixth season the event has been part of the official European Tour schedule. Rhys Davies of Wales won in 2010, then David Horsey, Michael Hoey and Marcel Siem before Alejandro Canizares took the victory last season. The Spaniard led from the off, with a sparkling opening round of 62. He was never really threatened through the final round and eventually won by five from England’s Andy Sullivan.

The Golf du Palais Royal is located within the walls of the Royal Palace of Agadir. Outside of the tournament week it’s only used by King Mohammed VI and his guests. Besides a cheque for €250,000, the winner of this tournament is presented with a jewel-encrusted gold dagger – A prize that’s extremely valuable in its own right.

The course is always a firm favourite with the players and is one of the key reasons this event always attracts such a strong field. Another reason why some of the top players are making a start in Morocco is the possibility of a late qualification for the U.S. Masters.

Alexander Levy, Andy Sullivan, Tommy Fleetwood, Marcel Siem and George Coetzee would all secure a start at Augusta if they could win in Morocco.

After the disastrous weather that forced the cancellation of last week’s Madeira Islands Open, tournament organisers in Morocco will be relieved to see this week’s forecast. It looks likely to be set fair with clear skies, mild temperatures and just a little breeze to keep the players honest.

Venue: Golf du Palais Royal, Agadir, Morocco Date: Mar 26-29 Course stats: par 72, 6,951 yards Purse: €1,500,000 Winner: €250,000 Defending Champion: Alejandro Cañizares (-19)

TV Coverage: Thursday 26 – Sky Sports 4 from 11am Friday 27 – Sky Sports 4 from 11am Saturday 28 – Sky Sports 4 from 2pm Sunday 29 – Sky Sports 4 from 2pm

Player Watch: Andy Sullivan – Twice a winner already on the 2015 European Tour, Sullivan can qualify for the Masters with a win here. He was second in the tournament last year so clearly enjoys the course.

Alexander Levy – Another man who could make it to Augusta with a victory here. That prospect could inspire the Frenchman to find his best golf this week.

Michael Hoey – The Northern Irishman hasn’t been on stellar form of late but he’s a talented player and a former winner of this tournament. A return to a site of former glory could kickstart his season.

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.

Andy Sullivan on how to play in a crosswind:

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?