Trophee Hassan II Preview
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
AFTER a five-week hiatus, life resumes on the European Tour at the Trophee Hassan at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam at Rabat in Morocco. For the players for whom this tour is their bread and butter, the break has been far too long and is clearly something that has to be addressed for 2018.
The tournament was won in 2016 by Jeunghun Wang, in 2015 by Richie Ramsay, in 2014 by Alejandro Canizares, in 2013 by Marcel Siem, by Michael Hoey in 2012 and by David Horsey in 2011. And just to demonstrate how quickly things change in the world of professional golf, the 2010 champion was Rhys Davies, of Wales - back then, he was hailed as the next big thing and was widely regarded as a certainty to play for Europe in the Ryder Cup. Sadly, it never quite worked out for a man who still possesses one of the best putting strokes in Europe.
Tom Lewis is a young man who knows all about bursting onto the scene and being hailed as a huge prospect. He played in The Open as a teenager, turned professional in 2011 and quickly won his first title and seemed to have the world at his feet. But then it all went wrong, he lost his playing privileges and had to start all over again. Remarkably, he is still only 26 years old and still has time to get his career back on track.
In the week after The Masters, most of the tour's big names are taking some time off. But there are still some excellent players in the field who will be looking to take advantage.
Wang is back to defend his title. Aged 21, he has won three titles and will be the highest ranked player in the field. The South Korean has already won this season and looks to be the complete player. He hits the ball straight and has a wondrous touch around the greens, as do many Asian golfers. But what he lacks is consistency and when he finds that he really could become one of the best players on the planet.
Jordan Smith will look at what has happened to Lewis and Davies and know that the rest of his professional career may not be quite as straightforward as the first few months have been. He is already certain to have kept his tour card for next season but clearly has the game to move to the next level. He is playing golf courses for the first time in this his first year on tour and that means there is more for him to learn. The young Englishman is an intelligent man and a quick learner. Royal Golf Dar Es Salam is a course that should suit his game and he will fancy his chances of landing his first title this week.
Holland's Joost Luiten played some terrific golf in 2016. He has played well in Morocco in the past and he putts well on all surfaces. He is a ferocious competitor who has a habit of getting down on himself when things don't go well but in recent months he has finally shown signs of getting his emotions under control.
Nicolas Colsaerts is another who is rather less than the sum of his parts. One of the longest hitters on the European Tour, the Belgian is a magnificent athlete who should be playing in and competing in majors. He is a magnificent ball striker and he has a wonderful temperament, so why has he struggled so much? Having talent is one thing but it is never quite enough. Colsaerts needs to keep his head down (metaphorically) and rediscover the things that worked for him when he first came out on tour.
One of Europe's streakiest players is Alexander Levy, one of the group of hugely talented French golfers to have burst on the scene in recent years. He is a proven winner and if he arrives in north Africa in the right frame of mind, it would take a brave man to bet against him. He also loves playing in hot weather, and the mercury will be rising in Morocco. He could have a battle royal with Romain Langasque, one of his younger countrymen. Langasque is recognised as a young golfer with massive potential but whose confidence can be fragile. He will surely overcome that and when he does he could easily become a serial winner. A former British Amateur champion, he is still only 21 and has the world at his feet.
Alexander Levy. Mercurial Frenchman with huge talent
Joost Luiten. Better than recent results indicate
Jeunghun Wang. Terrific player
Alexander Levy. Ready to win again
Joost Luiten. Fabulous putter
Jeunghun Wang. Few weaknesses
Jordan Smith. Belongs in this company
Pablo Larrazabal. When he's good, he's very good
Brandon Stone. Hugely gifted South African
Dean Burmester. Hits the ball a country mile
Nicolas Colsaerts. Would love to see the big man win again
Marc Warren. Is there a better swing on tour?
Richie Ramsay. Former winner
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Tags: european tour