The European Tour returns to Morocco this week, for the ninth playing of the Trophee Hassan II since it first became part of the tour schedule in 2010.
A revamped golf course awaits the field, as James Duncan has updated the original Robert Trent Jones Sr. design, rebuilding all the greens and renovating all the bunkers, in the process taking it from a par-73 to par-72.
The field includes nine players ranked in the Official World Golf Rankings top 100, led by No. 61 Yusaku Miyazato. Many eyes will be focused on world No. 68 Paul Dunne, who not only came up just short in a playoff at this event a year ago, but is also coming off a second-place showing last week at the Open de Espana.
Edoardo Molinari was the player who outlasted Dunne in the playoff and is your returning champ.
It’s a big week for golf overall in Morocco, as the Ladies European Tour will also be contesting its Lalla Meryem Cup event on an adjoining course at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam.
As we do each week, here’s a round up of information and historical data to get you prepped for a weekend of golf in Morocco.
Tournament: Trophee Hassan II
Dates: April 19-22, 2018
Where: Rabat, Morocco
Course: Royal Golf Dar Es Salam
Distance: Par 72, 7,557 yards
Architect: Robert Trent Jones, with 2017 redesign by James Duncan
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: €416,660
Defending Champion: Edoardo Molinari
Marquee Players: Molinari, Andy Sullivan, Chris Wood, Danny Willett, Yusaku Miyazato, George Coetzee, Joost Luiten, Wade Ormsby, Eddie Pepperell, Matt Wallace, Alexander Levy, Jeunghun Wang, Thomas Pieters, Robert Karlsson, Paul Lawrie, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson, Thomas Bjorn, David Horsey
TV AND ONLINE
Round 1: Thu 9:30 am-1:30 pm (GOLF)
Round 2: Fri 10:30 am-1:30 pm (GOLF)
Round 3: Sat 8:00 am-12:30 pm (GOLF)
Round 4: Sun 8:00 am-12:30 pm (GOLF)
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A part of the European Tour since 2010, the Trophee Hassan II was first played in 1971 and is Morocco’s longest-running sporting event.
The official host is His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid. The tournament is named in honor of his father, Hassan II, who served as Morocco’s king from 1961-1999.
The tournament boasts an impressive list of past winners, including nine players who careers included major championships: Orville Moody (the very first winner in 1971), Billy Casper, Lee Trevino, Vijay Singh, Payne Stewart, Nick Price, David Toms, Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els.
Only one player has won the event three times, Santiago Luna. Now age 54, he is in this year’s field by invitation and will be making his 594th European Tour start.
1971-18: Trophee Hassan II
2017: Edoardo Molinari (-9)
2016: Jeunghun Wang (-5)
2015: Richie Ramsey (-10)
2014: Alejandro Canizares (-19)
2013: Marcel Siem (-17)
2012: Michael Hoey (-17)
2011: David Horsey (-13)
SCORING: 266 (-25) Rhys Davies (2010)
WINS: 3 – Santiago Luna (1998, 2002-03)
In a finish filled with drama, Italian Edoardo Molinari edged out Paul Dunne in a playoff to earn his third career European Tour victory, but first since 2010.
Dunne led by two strokes coming into the final round, but Molinari fired a final round 68.
The 36-year-old Italian made eagle-3 at the 18th to take the outright lead, but the Irishman Dunne followed up with a clutch birdie to force a playoff.
After Dunne missed a six-footer for par on the first sudden-death hole, Molinari tapped-in for par-five to claim the victory. Englishman Paul Waring finished solo-third at 8-under after carding a final-round 70.
FINAL TOP 10
1 Edoardo Molinari -9
2 Paul Dunne -9
3 Paul Waring -8
4 Victor Dubuisson -6
4 Lasse Jensen -6
6 Daniel Brooks -5
6 Chris Hanson -5
8 Ashley Chesters -4
8 Trevor Fisher Jr -4
8 Renato Paratore -4
8 Carlos Pigem -4
8 Jordan Smith -4
Will this be Paul Dunne’s time to win again? The 26-year-old from Ireland scored his first European Tour title last October in winning the British Masters, but he came close to winning in Morocco last year, falling short in a playoff, and he is coming off a week where he finished second again, this time at last week’s Open de Espana.
Defending champ Edoardo Molinari does not come to Morocco playing particularly well. He missed the cut last week at the Open de Espana, and his best finish in 2018 was a tie for 16th in February at the NBO Oman Open.
If history is any indication, the player most likely to be in the mix this week is Englishman David Horsey. Since the Trophee Hassan II became part of the European Tour in 2010, Horsey has finished in the top 15 five times, including a victory in 2011. He also tied for second in 2013 and tied for eighth in 2014. Altogether since 2010, he’s played the event in 39-under par.
The 2016 champion, Jeunghun Wang, is still just 22 years old. His 2018 got off to a strong start with a tie for sixth at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, but he comes to Morocco having missed the cut in two of his last three starts. As defending champ at the event a year ago, he missed the 2017 cut.
This year’s field also includes five players who are already winners on the European Tour’s 2018 schedule: George Coetzee (Tshswane Open), Joost Luiten (NBO Oman Open), Wade Ormsby (UBS Hong Kong Open), Eddie Pepperell (Commercial Bank Qatar Masters) and Matt Wallace (Hero Indian Open.)
Credits: European Tour Media, Getty Images