The Trophee Hassan II | 26 March - 29 March | Golf du Palais Royal
The European Tour leaves the rain swept shores of Portugal this week and heads to North Africa and the majestic Golf du Palais Royal for the always entertaining Trophee Hassan II. After the disappointment of last week and the rainy conditions encountered in the Madeira Islands Open, the field will be looking forward to a bit of sun and hoping for nothing more than a fresh breeze. They will be expecting to shoot some low scores on a fantastic golf course. Situated on the property of the Royal Palace, the course offers few challenges and the winner of this one will have to be capable of taking advantage of the short 6,200 yard layout.
A number of bunkers are in play on almost every hole and whilst they are strategically placed, they don’t offer much in the way of a challenge to players of this calibre. Likewise, although there is a fair amount of water throughout, it’s not going to take too much to avoid keeping the ball out of danger. The difficulty will arise if the wind blows but a quick look at the weather forecast suggests that even this wont be a factor this week. Compared to last week, a strong field has assembled for what has become a favourite tournament amongst fans and players alike and the amount of birdies on offer will ensure that this is a tournament to keep an eye on.
George Coetzee 16/1
Marcel Siem 20/1
Andy Sullivan 22/1
Ross Fisher 22/1
Alexander Levy 22/1
Andy Sullivan (22/1 a win, 48/10 a place)
Before the betting came out I was expecting Andy Sullivan to be favourite and the fact that he isn’t and is available at huge odds of 22/1 is a pleasant surprise. He’s in the form of his life and couldn’t have started the year off any better with two wins and a Top 5 under his belt already. He’ll arrive here confident. A final round 63 here last year saw him finish runner-up; there’s no reason he can’t go one better this time around.
David Howell (45/1 a win, 99/10 a place)
Englishman David Howell has played a lot of golf in 2015 and was rewarded in the Joburg Open when he finished an impressive second behind Andy Sullivan. He was in top form then and proved that on his day he is a brilliant striker of the ball who has what it takes to compete on the European Tour. This week he faces stiffer competition than he did then though which has resulted in him being available at a very generous 45/1. If he plays like he did a few weeks ago in South Africa he’ll be near the Top come Sunday so I’m going each way on Howell.
Alexander Levy (22/1 a win, 48/10 a place)
Regular readers of this blog will know that we have a soft spot for this young Frenchman and this week we couldn’t resist having an each way bet at generous odds. In this company Levy looks to offer a lot of value, especially when you consider how much his game has improved over the last year or so. Last time around he didn’t shoot the lights out but he’ll arrive more confident this year and optimistic of his chances against this field.
Jaco van Zyl (25/1 a win, 11/2 a place)
In 2011 van Zyl came close to winning here when but he was edged out in a playoff. As disappointing as that must have been, he showed then that he has the game to dominate this course and a few years down the line it doesn’t look like too much has changed. On short tracks like this, accuracy is often rewarded and there aren’t many players in this field who hit the ball straighter than our man. He’ll have no problem finding the greens and fairways and if he can take advantage of that he’ll make enough birdies to go close. Each way on van Zyl is the bet for me.