Trophee Hassan II: European Tour Back in Swing in Morocco

Apr 6, 2017; Augusta, GA, USA; Jeunghun Wang hits his tee shot on the 2nd hole during the first round of The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2017; Augusta, GA, USA; Jeunghun Wang hits his tee shot on the 2nd hole during the first round of The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports /

Jeung-hun Wang made the lengthy trip from Augusta to defend his Trophee Hassan II title this week in Morocco

Trophee Hassan II takes the European Tour back to work this week in Rabat, Morocco after a 4 week hiatus. Two brave souls made the 17-hour flight from Augusta, Georgia to tee it up, defending champion Jeung-hun Wang, and 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir.

They’re probably not going to get the same goosebumps entering the premises entering Dar es Salam as they did driving down Magnolia Lane. With that said, Morocco is an underrated nation for the sport if more for its courses and weather than its professional golfers. Several of these beautiful tracks are on or near the African nation’s Atlantic coast.

This week’s track is Royal Dar es Salam’s Red Course, a massive 7,615-yard par-73 Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout. It’s a parkland style course ranked in the top 100 courses in the world by GOLF Magazine. Royal Dar es Salam Red features Bermuda greens and its distinctive hole is the 194-yard par-3 ninth that requires a carry entirely over water.

The course opened in 1971, around the time golf became “a thing,” as the kids say, in Morocco. Golf’s budding popularity was in part thanks to the tournament’s namesake, King Hassan II, and his fondness for the game.

He, and perhaps some money involved, helped to attract big names that went on to become tournament winners including major champions Billy Casper, Lee Trevino, Vijay Singh and Padraig Harrington.

The tournament’s current placement on the schedule is a big reason this year’s field is a little lacking. Many of the elite European Tour players have stuck around for the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage and others are staying stateside as much as possible until June’s US Open.

A Look at the Field

Wang is the Trophée Hassan II’s highest-ranked player at No. 48 in the world. He returns to the site of his maiden victory where he defeated Nacho Elvira in a playoff on a wild Sunday.

That preceded a win the next week at the Mauritius Open and this year at the Qatar Masters.

Wang missed the cut at Augusta last week.

Six others inside the OWGR top 100 are in Morocco. Five-time European Tour winner No. 68 Joost Luiten joins No. 75 Brandon Stone, No. 91 Richard Sterne, No. 95 Dean Burmester, No. 97 Jordan Smith and No. 99 Jaco Van Zyl.

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Stone is a rising star on Tour and a name to watch this week. The 23-year-old won the season-opening Alfred Dunhill Championship in December, placed T7 at a loaded Omega Dubai Desert Classic and has two other top-four finishes this season.

Burmester is also a winner on tour this season at the Tshwane Open. Smith was twice a winner on the Challenge Tour and is riding a nine-tournament made cut streak with two top-10s in the process.

Looking outside the top 100, names that stand out are Erik Compton, former Order of Merit winner Robert Karlsson, the European Tour’s youngest winner, Matteo Manassero, and Nicolas Colsaerts.

Former Ryder Cup member Jamie Donaldson, 2009 PGA Champion Y.E. Yang, 2005 US Amateur champion Edoardo Molinari and 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn round out the headliners.

World No. 893 Ahmed Marjane is the highest-ranked of seven Moroccans in the field. Marjane’s career-best finish is a runner-up at the Mena Tour’s Ghala Open in October. He has one start on the European Tour, a missed cut at the 2017 Dubai Desert Classic.


My theoretical money is on Jordan Smith to become the second straight to win the Trophée Hassan II on his first try. The 24-year-old Englishman has steadily climbed through the ranks and is a proven winner wherever he goes.

He couldn’t pull out a win for Great Britain & Ireland in the 2013 Walker Cup but won twice on the PGA EuroPro Tour in 2015 and again last year on the Challenge Tour.

It seems a matter of time before a win on the European Tour comes his way. This week looks better than any to get it done.

Next: LPGA Lotte Championship Power Rankings

You can catch the action at the Trophee Hassan II on Golf Channel this week. Here’s the broadcast schedule.