Niall Lyons has four bets in this week's Trophee Hassan II at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam.
Royal Golf Dar Es Salam returns as the host course for this years renewal of the Trophee Hassan II
. Last held here in 2010 almost forgotten Welshman Rhys Davies won as he went on a solid run to give himself a serious chance of a Ryder Cup spot. Since then it has been a mega struggle for the lad who took to the Challenge Tour in order to gain his card again. Results this term have been a shade more encouraging and Davies will welcome a return to the scene of his 2010 triumph. The Robert Trent Jones design is a tight enough affair but will no doubt yield a lot of low scores throughout the four days. Davies had to each the heights of 25 under to beat Louis Oosthuizen by two strokes six years ago.
As ever we are looking for which type of golfer is suited to this test and I've identified the East London venue for the Africa Open as one to keep a close eye on. At first inspection this course does indeed resemble a lot of the South African courses we have visited down the years. When we look at results there seems to be a correlation also. Louis Oosthuizen who finished second here in 2010 has twice won at East London. Thomas Aiken who won around East London in 2014 shot -18 last time here at Dar Es Salam to finish 3rd. David Horsey, 3rd at East London in 2014 shot a respectable -8 total in 2010. In a tournament which has a very weak field I think this link may prove to be pivotal in finding a few contenders.
Alex levy and Alejandro Canizares head the market this week and in a weak field will surely be fancied by many to contend. Both have been playing decent golf of late and if I had to side with one of them I'd go for Canizares as the course should require a degree more of shotmaking technique which should suit him. Either way I see a shade more value the further I go down the field.
My top selection was planning on being David Horsey however following a recent knee operation I can't be guaranteed he will show up here in peak fitness. His record in Morocco is super and I wouldn't be surprised to see him up there again. Gregory Bourdy
shows up here among a very weak field and even though his price is slightly on the skinny side I am going to favour him as my top bet this week. Four recent consistent efforts means he turns up here in decent enough form and I feel he'll fancy taking this prize home. The fact he has posted a 20th placed finish and a runner up spot at East London is enough to suggest to me that he has the tools to take on this course. He isn't one to be relied upon heavily in contention, but little are in this field this week. He is certainly a better betting prospect than the two tournament jollies and for me rates the most likely winner in the field.
Gregory Bourdy - 1.5pts e/w @ 22/1Lost -3pts
Despite the very low scores needed here to win I do believe a fair bit of strategy is needed. It isn't a bombers course on paper. What has struck me about Frenchman Mike Lorenzo Vera's
performances over the last 6 months is that he plays his best golf around the tight layouts. This far from that, bit given how weak the field is I'm prepared to back this fella as I feel he is still ahead of the handicapper. There is no denying this lads credentials and he is beginning to improve. There are plenty of missed cuts and poor performances but it's worth noting the better ones. 6th at Valderrama, 5th British Masters, 12th KLM, 6th Open De France and 11th Lyoness are all impressive results since last Summer. Most of these require a degree of strategy also. All those results have been posted in much more difficult fields. He held the lead in Spain heading into day four and didn't disgrace himself despite the obvious chance that he'd go to pieces during a very tough final day at Valderrama. He certainly has game and I make the 80/1 on offer double what it should be.
Mike Lorenzo Vera - 1pt e/w @ 80/1Lost -2pts
Given the course link I mentioned earlier I think it would be foolish not to have a few South African's on our side. First up Christiaan Bezuidenhout
was hotly tipped to become South African's next big thing. He was ranked their no1 amateur before falling foul of the tours doping policy. Whether you believe the medication he was taking was to cure the anxiety of a stutter is another matter, but there's no doubting this lads talent. Points and prizes were taken off him back then so it has been a long road to get back to here. He finished a very impressive 2nd in the BMW South African Open back in January and more recently a top5 and top10 posted on the Sunshine Tour show good signs. I was surprised to see him chalked up from 66-80s so I'm happy to be on his side this week.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout - 1pt e/w @ 80/1Lost -2pts
last three outings on the European Tour have read 12th, 2nd and 7th. Previous to that he finished 4th at the Australian PGA. This is another kid who has a lot of game and the 80/1 generally out there about this lad is a tasty price considering the lack of strength and depth in this field. I have been impressed by all facets of his game and he certainly doesn't shirk the responsibility of a lead. A few South African's will be in and around the lead here come Sunday no doubt and Lombard is way overpriced to be one of them. Arguably more talented than Bezuidenhout and I'd fancy him to go well at this venue.
Zander Lombard - 1pt e/w @ 80/1Lost -2pts