Paul Williams' tips for the 2010 Hassan II Trophy Open:
Off to Rabat, Morocco this week for our first look at the Hassan II Trophy on the European Tour. The pro-am tournament has been played most years since 1971 however it has just achieved European Tour status for the first time this year.
Historically this event has attracted a handful of professionals who have graced Prince Moulay Rachid with their presence - the previous winners list is impressive: Vijay Singh, Ignacio Garrido, Colin Montgomerie, David Toms, Padraig Harrington and defending champion Ernie Els have all lifted the trophy in the past. Surprised? I was!
We haven't got much to go on this week in terms of results history other than the winners list - analysis of previous results is understandably sparse seeing as the event hasn't formed part of a formal Tour in the past. What we do know however is that the tournament is being played across 2 Robert Trent Jones courses ('Red' and 'Blue') on Thursday and Friday and over the Red course at the weekend. The Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course was previously home to the Moroccan Open on the European Tour and also the Moroccan Golf Classic on the Challenge Tour. A cursory look at some recent results throws out the following winners: Ian Poulter, Jamie Spence, Stephen Leaney & Peter Hedblom on the Moroccan Open; Jean Francois Lucquin at the Moroccan Golf Classic.
The 2 courses are par 73s with 5 par-5s apiece. The Red course is 550 yards longer than the Blue at 7,342 yards, although seeing as there are 5 par 5s this isn't excessively long...distance may well be an advantage for scoring on the par 5s. Pin placement will be relatively straightforward on Thursday and Friday due to the Pro-am nature of the event plus, with the greens expected to be very receptive and a good weather forecast, this should see some low scoring.
I've up-weighted driving distance, putting, scoring average and current form to get to my final predictor output. Here's my tips based on the final predictor output:
The 22-year old from Sheffield is awaiting his first year on the European Tour but is starting to show the promise that his amateur career hinted at. Averages nearly 300 yards off the tee which will serve him well here on the 5 par 5s. Has 2 top-10s this season already at the Joburg and Malaysian Opens, can turn those experiences into a maiden victory here this week in my opinion.
Alejandro Canizares 1pt EW 40/1@ Stan James. RESULT: T43
The son of Jose Maria is enjoying a solid season and is increasingly flirting with the top of the leaderboard. Missed out on a top 10 payout for followers of my tips in Malaysia having spent the first 3 days firmly camped in the top 5 to finally come unstuck a little on Sunday and finish 14th. His significantly shorter odds this week accurately reflects his increased chance of winning this week, particularly as his excellent putting is likely to get him off to a great start with the easier pin placements over the first few days.
Alejandro Canizares 1pt EW First Round Leader 50/1@ Stan James. RESULT: T8
For all the reasons above, Canizares can get off to a flyer on Thursday with his excellent putting combined with easy pin placements.
Finally a couple of top-10s who ranked well on the predictor:
Marco Ruiz 1pt Top 10 14/1@ Totesport. RESULT: T27
Pablo Larrazabel 1pt Top 10 7/1@ Totesport. RESULT: T49
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 21:00GMT 16.3.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation