Davies ready for Moroccan defence

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Welshman Rhys Davies will be hoping for a repeat performance of his victory in Morocco last year at the Trophee Hassan II.

Welshman Rhys Davies will be hoping for a repeat performance of his victory in Morocco last year at the Trophee Hassan II.

Davies secured a two-shot maiden European Tour victory over Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, laying the foundation for what was to be a very successful rookie year. The 25-year-old finished 18th on the Order of Merit in 2010, and will be hoping to jumpstart another good season off a successful title defence in Morocco.

He’ll have to contend with a change of venue, however, as the event has been moved from the capital, Rabat, to Agadir, where two courses will be used, the Golf du Palais Royal and the Golf de L’Ocean. Both weekend rounds will be held at the Palais Royal.

New venue or not, Davies is looking forward to his defence.

“It will be the first time I’ll be defending a tournament as a professional so it’s something I’m very much looking forward to,” he told europeantour.com.

“It’s a different challenge because it’s not the same course but it’s obviously a tournament I’ve got very fond memories of and hopefully I can do the same again.

“There was never any doubt I’d be coming this week. It was one of the first tournaments on my schedule and I’m absolutely relishing the challenge to try and keep my title.

“In some ways it’s a little bit disappointing they’ve moved courses, because you have memories of the good shots you hit at various points on the course, but at the same time we get to go to another part of Morocco, see a different city and have the challenge of conquering another golf course.”

Other notables in the field include Thomas Bjorn, Simon Khan, Darren Clarke, David Howell, Simon Wakefield, who has a share of the course record at the Golf du Palais Royal, and Santiago Luna, who is already a three-time winner of the tournament (1998, 2002 and 2003).

Luna is back thanks to a sponsor’s invitation, and reminisced about some of his past performances.

“Winning for the first time and being presented with the beautiful trophy – a gold dagger – by Moroccan royalty was amazing. I felt really good about my game and after that I always came to the tournament knowing I would win it,” he said.

“Of course, I didn’t win it every year but the times I didn’t win I was always near the top. I can’t explain it, but when I come to this tournament my game has something extra.”

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