Paul Williams Tips for the 2012 Trophee Hassan II. Follow Us On Twitter @Golfbetting
Following last week's shock 150/1 win in Marbella by the little-known Challenge Tour graduate Julien Quesne, here's hoping for something a little more predictable this week as we attempt to prise open those bulging bookies' satchels! In the end we drew a disappointing blank despite a prominent display from top selection Marcel Siem, however a final 9 of 40 strokes simply wasn't good enough when push came to shove on Sunday.
This week we return to the Gold Du Palais Royal in Agadir for the second consecutive year and for the third instalment of the Trophee Hassan II. The format has changed to a regular strokeplay event over the 1 course for 2012 having previously played as a pro-am over 2 courses - last year the amateurs were essentially getting in the way, particularly on Sunday, and I believe this is a great move for the tournament.
The course itself was designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior measuring at just 6,844 yards for its par 72 - very similar to last week's course in Marbella in that respect - with similar small, bentgrass greens this will suit players who can find a lot of greens in regulation. The course is always in perfect condition as it's only King Mohammed VI and his guests who get to play it for 51 weeks a year, however it may well bear its teeth a little this week as a fairly strong breeze is expected to blow across the course for most of the 4 days.
With 2 weeks to go before the Masters, there's just 2 players who could potentially sneak a place in the Augusta field with a victory here - namely Matteo Manassero and Robert Rock. Tournament favourite Francesco Molinari has already qualified by virtue of his top-50 OWGR status on December 31st so it's arguable that his motivation to play will be more about getting his game ready for Augusta than going all-out for the win.
My selections this week are as follows:
It's now or never for the Italian starlet and I'm backing him to step up to the plate this week in Morocco. At 61st on the OWGR only a win here will suffice if he's to play at Augusta in a fortnight's time - and even then it may depend on what the likes of Zach Johnson, Kyle Stanley, Ben Crane, Geoff Ogilvy, Ryo Ishikawa and a few other borderline players do over at Bay Hill this week. Objective number 1 though is for Manassero to triumph here first and foremost, and following a bounce back to form in Marbella last week that's more than a distinct possibility. With another shorter course on offer in Morocco, Manassero will be suited down to the ground this week.
In truth it has been an underwhelming run for Matteo over the last 9 months with just 1 top 10 in 16 starts before he arrived in Spain last week, however his game looked to be getting back towards its best with a 15-under total for 2nd place and, crucially, his putting looked to be top drawer. Oddly it's his tee-to-green game which has been letting him down a little in 2012, however on a course which a little more width off the tee it won't take much for the teenager to be right in the mix this week and, for me, he should be outright favourite this week - take the 14/1 on offer. RESULT: T6
With a seemingly healthy Tiger Woods taking on Bay Hill this week in the States, I'm going to invest in a small each way double on Manassero and Woods. When fit and well Tiger has dominated at Bay Hill with 4 wins from his last 9 starts and a stroke average of under 70 for the last 10 years - check out our stats here. Coupled with Manassero, the each way element pays 25/2 if they both come placed and 134/1 if they both win at the current prices. Tasty! RESULT: T6 & 1st
Dutchman Luiten finally got the win that his pedigree deserved in the weather-reduced Johor Open in Malaysia back in November - that was just rewards for a player who was in contention more often than not in the second half of 2011. With that monkey off of his back, Joost certainly has the talent to build on that victory in 2012 - particularly when there's a slightly more demanding track that requires a high proportion of greens to be hit, as we have here in Morocco.
Greens in regulation is Luiten's strongest suit - at 74% for the last season and a half he's consistently towards the top end of that statistic which serves him well in this type of event. Johor was another short par 72 and Luiten will feel quite comfortable with his surroundings in Morocco as he looks to build on his 11th place finish here last year. RESULT: T44
Englishman Wall is a player I put in the David Lynn category - i.e. they should have won more events during their career, however have been a good, consistent player for a number of years. It was a toss-up between Lynn and Wall for my 3rd selection as they both have their individual merits, however it was 36 year-old Londoner Wall who finally got the not at twice the price of Lynn.
What I like most about Anthony is his record on tougher courses where high GIR is essential - despite a disappointing 2011, he still hit nearly 72% of greens (35th on tour) and 2012 is even stronger at nigh-on 74% so far. Despite 5 consecutive cuts made this season, he's yet to really feature at the top of a leaderboard however I think this week could be a turning point due to his positive record at Valderrama, another Trent Jones Senior design featuring small, G2 bentgrass greens - I think he'll find this course to his liking when he gets his first competitive round around here on Thursday since his early career events at the now defunct Moroccan Open. RESULT: T17
2010 Wentworth champion Simon Khan completes my line-up this week and I reckon the 125/1 chalked up about the 39 year-old is a worthy investment this week following a prominent performance in Marbella. Last week's effort saw him finish in 11th spot and, crucially, he hit nearly 90% of greens over the 4 days - all in all he's hit over 80% of greens in 2012 which is an incredible stat! His overall results have been a little erratic in 2012 with some very good rounds followed by some very poor rounds, however last week was for more consistent and if that trends continues then we could see him in the mix again this week on a course he can definitely compete given it's short nature.
Last year's missed cut can be ignored as he was still struggling to find any form whatsoever following his PGA Championship victory the previous summer. He finally got his act together a little following a top 5 in the French Open last season, and a more recent top 25 in Qatar (on a course that didn't suit) before his effort last week shows positive strides in his game. RESULT: MC
To read our stats page for the Trophee Hassan II click here: Trophee Hassan II Stats
Our tips, picks and predictions for the 2013 edition of this event will be published here on the Tuesday before the event - bookmark this page and come back soon!