Winner’s Share – €250,000
Course – Golf du Palais Royal (6,951 par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – David Horsey (T8), Craig Lee (MC), Mathew Baldwin (T52), Edoardo Molinari (T25), Shane Lowry (T56)
What a waste of time and effort it was for the players, media, gamblers and European Tour as a whole last week. A complete wash out at Madeira left us in particular frustrated because of JB Hansen finishing 1 shot ahead when the organisers decided enough was enough – although 3/4 of the field were just 1 or 2 shots behind…
So, we will all move on to a tournament and a course that we would easily consider one of our favourites. The Trophee Hassan II is undoubtedly one of the most unique and bizarre events of the Tour, being held in collaboration with the Moroccan Royal Family. The ‘trophy’ is actually a jewel-encrusted sword and presented to the winner by either the King himself or a relative – ludicrous.
Then you come to the par 72, 6,951 yard track. It’s played on an estimated 4-10 times a year and lies within the Palace walls of the Royal Palace. So in other words it’s the Kings garden – a royal playground if you will.
The Golf du Palais Royal is a course situated in the coastal town of Agadir, where the conditions often play a significant part in the tournaments proceedings.
In the past couple of years around the holes by the sea, there has been a great deal of wind to contend with, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for players who enjoy mixing it up in difficult weather and can ultimately, play a variety of shots.
A beautiful mix between a links and parkland style, legendary architect Robert Trent Jones Snr designed an absolute beauty. It is a tee-to-green haven, where the whole field must dominate with their accuracy in order to have any chance of swinging the sword come Sunday. The run-offs around the greens are some of the steepest we will see all year in Europe – when you hear the players talk about it, they cannot comprehend how difficult the slopes are so it’s just imperative you are on your game with the irons.
Obviously, 100% GIR will never happen, so scrambling will come into it, potentially being the 1 or 2 shot difference between 1st or 2nd. All in all, it’s going to be a great week and we really hope we’ll have a royal winner…
Alexander Levy (25/1 Various)
We’re going in slightly top heavy with our picks this week but with the 2 guys we’ve chosen from the top end far outweighing the other guys in our minds; it was an easy decision to make. Firstly Frenchman Levy could quite easily be overlooked given his recent form but when you consider his last 3 appearances have been on the PGA Tour including the WGC Cadillac it’s easy to see why. Interestingly he did rank T3 after the first day in the WGC event but was somewhat overshadowed by JB Holmes’ 62. Playing with stars Grace and Henley, Levy looked at home on the big stage.
So this week a lot will be talked about regarding the chance to grab a slot at the Masters – Levy, Coetzee, Sullivan, Fleetwood and Siem all have realistic chances but with some out of form and others winding down after hot streaks you really can see Levy doing the business. The experience he has gained from America alone will be enough to put him head and shoulders quality-wise above most in the field this week.
Emiliano Grillo (25/1 Various)
Feels somewhat like a bandwagon in many respects given his play-off defeat on the PGA Tour 3 weeks ago but we can only look at this positively. Grillo will grow into one of the best guys on the European Tour that is for sure but one worry we all have at the moment is his bottle, or lack of. His capitulation in South Africa last year will be hard to wipe from the mind. But all things considered, to go over to the PGA Tour in only his 3rd event and make the play-off is some going. Depsite losing he will only take confidence from that. What we loved more was he ranked 2nd GIR for the week against some quality players.
The Argentinian has played here once in 2013 and recorded an 11th place – With the confidence he will have from his PGA Tour adventures, this could be his first foray in the European Tour winner’s circle.
David Howell (50/1 Various)
The Englishman is never going to enamour us whenever we go there because it’s David Howell but this week, on this course, we like him. Accuracy and a short game is what he’s all about and the run-offs around this place are a lot harsher than you may think. Deft touches and experience will go a long way.
Dave has a best of 8th a couple of years ago and is in really good knick at the moment. 2nd back at the Joburg was impressive and despite not contending last time out, he ranked 2nd GIR. With a week off and good preparation he’ll be good to go again.
Craig Lee (70/1 Stan James)
If you know us and follow us regularly this one was obvious. Craig is one of our favourite players and partly down to a gorgeous display with his irons in this exact tournament 2 years ago. So we think it’s only fate that he comes to a track that is genuinely suited to him in quality form.
The Scot finished T3 at the Tshwane Open on his first appearance at the course a couple of weeks ago which will give him massive confidence. He’s not the most consistent of performers so you need to catch him when he’s on it. That’s now.
He ranked top 25 in all tee to green stats while he also ranked 6th in GIR in his 3rd. So his game is there and the Trophee Hassan is a tournament he knows well. Outstanding value.
Jorge Campillo (100/1 Various)
Spaniards are renowned for their ironplay, just think of their exports. This guys is no different. In his 3 appearances around this course he’s gradually improved going from 37th in 2012 to 11th last year. For someone who’s still finding their feet on the European Tour, course form like this is a rarity.
His 3rd at the Africa Open shows he can mix it in the bigger events and also shows the knick he’s in. He regularly ranks at the top end of the GIR and it’s a course, like our other picks, he is suited for. 100/1 is a solid price.
Matteo Manassero (200/1 Various)
It’s sad to admit the Italian warrants these odds but things are going to turn around soon, he’s too good not to. Matteo has got too hooked up with looking for distance off the tee, hitting the gym and all the things that come with that. But this week is a course where you think your way around and iron players come to the fore – regardless of form, he’s still one of the best players in the world at doing that.
So, why this week? On his only appearance here as an 18 year old he finished 6th. In his last outing it was his putting that let him down massively. We know this guy can putt and it’s all a confidence thing. If he gets it going early on in Morocco he’ll definitely continue it.
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£2.25 e/w on Alexander Levy at 25/1
£1.00 e/w on David Howell at 50/1
£0.85 e/w on Craig Lee at 66/1
£0.50 e/w on Jorge Campillo at 90/1
£0.40 e/w on Matteo Manassero at 200/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
Current Standings after 10 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-16.60 European Tour: £-36
PGA Tour: £-37.28 PGA Tour: £61.75
Total: £-53.88 Total: £25.75
Golf Monthly leads by: £79.63