This week the European Tour returns to Morocco for the Trophée Hassan II. Here are five things you need to know ahead of the 18th tournament of the 2018 season…
1) A tournament steeped in history
A host of European Tour stars, including Major winners Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington, and Ryder Cup Captains Colin Montgomerie and Sam Torrance, were winners of the event before it officially joined the European Tour’s International Schedule in 2010.
The Trophée Hassan II was first staged in 1971 and was won by America’s Orville Moody. Moody and his compatriots enjoyed success at this event with 16 players winning 17 events before it became a part of the European Tour’s calendar. The tournament is Morocco’s longest-running sporting event.
2) A royal connection
The Trophée Hassan II is hosted by His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid, and was named for his father, Hassan II, who served as King of Morocco from 1929 to 1999.
The tournament has been held at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam all but five times since it was first played in 1971. The golf course is just a stone’s throw from the Moroccan capital Rabat and was commissioned by King Hassan II, an avid golfer, as he wished to create a sports complex dedicated to golf. It is now regarded as one of the best golf courses in Africa and the layout is a mammoth 7,557 yards.
3) Bringing two European tours together
It’s not just members of the European Tour who will be teeing it up in Morocco this week, as members of the Ladies European Tour will compete for the Lalla Meryem Cup. The Lalla Meryem Cup was first played in 1993, and joined the LET’s International Schedule in 2010 – the same year the Trophée Hassan II became a European Tour event.
The Trophée Hassan II field will play on the Red Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, while their female counterparts will tee it up on the neighbouring Blue Course.
4) Form Horse
Since the tournament became part of the European Tour’s International Schedule in 2010, David Horsey has the best record of any player. Having won in 2011, he was tied second in 2013 and tied eighth in 2014.
No one has yet matched the form of Spain’s Santiago Luna, now a regular on the Staysure Tour, who won the event three times before 2010. The Spaniard won his first title in 1998 ahead of Tom Pernice Jr and then went back-to-back in 2002 and 2003. Before his 2002 victory, he was runner-up to Joakim Haeggman, whom he beat to the title in 2003.
5) Winners from around the world
Welshman Rhys Davies was the first winner of the Trophée Hassan II when it joined the European Tour’s schedule in 2010, and he was joined in the winner’s circle by fellow Brits David Horsey and Michael Hoey in 2011 and 2012. Germany’s Marcel Siem became the first winner from continental Europe in 2013, and Jeunghun Wang became the first Asian winner of Trophée Hassan II in 2016.
As an unofficial event, Major Champions Ernie Els, of South Africa, Nick Price, of Zimbabwe, and Fiji’s Vijay Singh, won the golden dagger.