Trophee Hassan II Preview7 min read
After a four week break on the European Tour, the players are back in action at the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco. Royal Golf Dar Es Salam presents a tough challenge for the field with nobody beating nine-under par during the tournaments hosted over the last three years.
The 7,632-yard par 72 is a tight treelined course which requires accuracy in addition to strong scrambling around the greens. Joost Luiten is the 16/1 favourite but the consistent Dutchman is reluctantly overlooked this week.
Nacho Elvira has come agonisingly close to his first European Tour win in recent tournaments and this could be the week he gets off the mark. The Spaniard tied for second at the Qatar Masters last month before losing in a play-off to Scott Hend in Malaysia. Elvira followed this up with sixth place at the India Open and he is 31-under-par for his last 12 rounds.
The four-time Challenge Tour winner comes into this week with huge confidence in his game and has enjoyed previous success at this course. Elvira was runner-up at the tournament three years ago and 22nd last season. With his exceptional current form, Elvira looks a likely contender and warrants support at 22/1 each way.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout is another player threatening a breakthrough victory on the European Tour and could go close again this weekend. The South African was joint second at the Qatar Masters last month. He followed this up with ninth place at the Kenya Open and finished fourth on his last outing in India.
Bezuidenhout’s two performances in Morocco are solid enough and look better with closer inspection. The 24-year-old shot a final round 79 in 2016 which dropped him down to 34th place. Last season only a closing 78 saw him finish 22nd. With the confidence gained over recent impressive results, Bezuidenhout is fancied to put four rounds together and challenge for the title at 28/1 each way.
Kurt Kitayama has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last six months and the confident American could be poised for more success this week. His maiden European Tour title came in December with victory at the Mauritius Open and followed up superbly with a win at the Oman Open last month.
The 26-year-old showed an ability to handle tough conditions in Oman, with seven-under par prevailing, so will not be intimidated by the difficulty of Royal Golf Dar Es Salam. Kitayama has already demonstrated a clinical ability to win and is fancied to finish off the job if he gets into contention. He looks generously priced at 40/1 each way to threaten a third victory of the season.
Adri Arnaus has made a seamless transition to the European Tour this year and it seems only a matter of time before the powerful Spaniard lands his first title. Arnaus finished inside the top 30 in elite fields at the Abu Dhabi Championship and the Dubai Desert Classic. He built on this with 14th place in Qatar and was close to his maiden victory when runner-up last month at the Kenya Open.
Arnaus, who shares some similarities with compatriot Jon Rahm, has already spoken positively of trying to qualify for the PGA Championship next month. This shows the ambition he has and a first European Tour victory is certainly within his sights. His win at the Challenge Tour Grand Final last season was a marker for his talent and the 24-year-old is worth getting onside at appealing odds of 50/1.
Andrea Pavan impressed on his first visit to Rabat last season and the Italian looks worth backing for another strong performance this weekend. Pavan recovered from an opening round of 75 to climb up the leaderboard and tied for third place. It was his second best result of the year and immediately marked him out as a potential winner in Morocco.
Pavan’s highlight last season was his first European Tour title after a dominant win at the Czech Masters in August. He finished the year strongly with six top 25s from his final seven events but has been slower off the mark in 2019. A tie for 27th at the Indian Open on his last start was his best result of the year and recently said he feels his game is trending in the right direction. Pavan is backed to build on this and merits support at 66/1 each way.
Nacho Elvira Each Way
Christiaan Bezuidenhout Each Way
Kurt Kitayama Each Way
Adri Arnaus Each Way
Andrea Pavan Each Way
Read Simon’s preview and betting tips for the Zurich Classic.