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Festival of golf this week in Agadir
March 26, 2013

From left: Ladies European Tour tournament director Sally McPherson, Mr Mustapha Zine, executive vice-president of ATH (Association Trophée Hassan II), Scott Kelly, director of marketing at the PGA European Tour and Hafid Sayah, events coordinator at ATH.

The Kingdom of Morocco hosts a festival of professional golf this week as the Men’s and Ladies’ European Tours join together in the city of Agadir.

As the world of golf looks forward towards the sport’s return to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Morocco remains the only nation to host both a professional men’s and ladies’ tournament in the same city during the same week.

Under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and presidency of His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid, The Hassan II Golf Trophy is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

A total of 138 players from 23 countries on the PGA European Tour will play the event over four rounds, on March 28-31 at Robert Trent Jones’s stunning Golf du Palais Royal, set inside the gates of Agadir’s Royal Palace.

Meanwhile, simultaneously, a field of 126 players from 30 different countries on the Ladies European Tour will contest the 19th edition of the Lalla Meryem Cup on the nearby Golf de l’Océan course.

Northern Irishman Michael Hoey and Australian Karen Lunn, defending champions of the The Hassan II Golf Trophy and Lalla Meryem Cup respectively, will be joined by a glittering cast of competitors including Laura Davies, Gwladys Nocera, Melissa Reid, Carly Booth, Stacey Keating and Cheyenne Woods, as well as Italian Edoardo Molinari – who finished runner-up in the Maybank Malaysian Open last week – his brother Francesco, Wales’ Rhys Davies and José Maria Olazabal, the victorious 2012 Ryder Cup captain.

At a press conference held at Golf de l’Océan on Tuesday, Mr Mustapha Zine, executive vice-president of ATH (Association Trophée Hassan II), explained the importance of the Hassan II Golf Trophy and Lalla Meryem Cup to Morocco.

“The simultaneous organisation of the Hassan II Golf Trophy and Lalla Meryem Cup is unique in the world,” said Mr. Zine, through translation. “Morocco is the first country to bring two tournaments on the European Tours, one female, one male, together in the same town in the same week. Every year we are becoming more global and the level is higher.”

This is the third year that the tournaments are being held in Agadir, aiding economic development in the region. As a direct result of the competitions in 2012, 3,415 nights of hotel accommodation were booked and 20,000 restaurant meals ordered.
In 2012, the tournaments generated 540 hours of live television coverage and 1,480 hours of total coverage on over 100 different television channels with a global audience of 392 million, equating to a publicity value of more than 80 million USD.

Scott Kelly, Director of Marketing at the PGA European Tour, commented, (through translation): “This is a true festival of golf in Morocco, demonstrated by the hospitality, television, culture and cuisine. It is a beautiful country and the events represent an opportunity to better understand the sport.”

Ladies European Tour Tournament Director Sally McPherson commented: “On behalf of the LET, I would like to take this opportunity to say how delighted and happy we are to be here. It’s so exciting for us to be starting our season with our first full-field event here in Morocco and we have brought 126 players, including 38 rookies, who are just starting out on their careers in this wonderful location. We would like to thank His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid, Chairman of the Hassan II Golf Trophy Association, for his vision in guiding the tournaments. We greatly appreciate our welcome return to Agadir, under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI.”

Morocco has all the elements to become a leading destination for global golf tourism with 27 golf courses and 20 further courses due to be opened by 2015.

The country benefits from a temperate climate 10 months of the year and the average flight time is only three hours from most major European capital cities. In addition, most golf courses are situated near to the principal tourist centres, such as Marrakech, Agadir, Essaouira, Rabat, Casablanca and El Jadida, bringing tourists a cultural experience aside from the golf.

The schedule for the week includes a Pro Am at Golf de l’Océan on Tuesday, Pro Am and Friendship Cup at Golf du Palais Royal on Wednesday, followed by a joint Pro Am presentation and opening ceremony and then gala dinner on Saturday.

The Lalla Meryem Cup gets under way over four rounds from Thursday, with a cut to the leading 60 professionals and those tied after two rounds.

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