The name’s Hoey. Michael Hoey.
Northern Irishman Michael Hoey has likened the idyllic Golf du Palais Royal course to a James Bond setting ahead of his Trophee Hassan II title defence this week.
Hoey, who fired weekend rounds of 65 to claim a fourth European Tour title 12 months ago, would love nothing more than to crown a fifth victory at a layout that is only ever used by His Majesty King Mohamed VI and his guests.
“The golf course only gets only a handful of games every year, so it’s very exclusive,” said the 34-year-old. “It feels like a James Bond setting. You can see the Palace from some of the holes and you try to see what’s going on, but the security is always pretty tight.
“The trophy is not a cup, but it’s a gold dagger. It’s very different and it’s worth a lot of money, so it’s a very nice prize.”
Although this week marks the fourth time the Trophee Hassan II has been considered a European Tour event, won in previous years by Hoey, Dave Horsey and Rhys Davies, this will be the 40th edition of the tournament first played in 1971 as founded by the late King Hassan II.
His Majesty King Mohamed VI and His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid have continued the Moroccan Royal Family’s strong support of the event in recent years.
Of the players likely to be in contention come Sunday include Molinari brothers Francesco and Edoardo, with the latter producing a mini resurgence at last week’s Malaysian Open when finishing one shot behind winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
Golfmagic scribe Gary Boyd is also making a rare appearance on the European Tour, having lost his card last season.
Trophee Hassan II
Golf du Palais Royal, Agadir, Morocco
Thursday March 28 to Sunday March 31
Par-72; 6,844 yards
Michael Hoey (-17)
Most wins: 1 (Michael Hoey 2012, Dave Horsey 2011, Rhys Davies 2010)
Lowest score: -25 (Rhys Davies 2010)
Did you know?
Golf du Palais Royale hosted the Moroccan Open in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and the Trophée Hassan II in 2011 and 2012
Not the strongest European Tour field of the season but the market is headed by the Molinari brothers, with Francesco the red-hot favourite at 12/1 followed by the more tempting offer of last week’s runner-up Edoardo at 25/1. Scott Jamieson looks another big price at 33s. Visit 888sport.com for more odds.
Thursday: Sky Sports 1 from 11am
Friday: Sky Sports 1 from 11am
Saturday: Sky Sports 1 from 11am
Sunday: Sky Sports 1 from 11am
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