The European Tour event will be played concurrently with the Ladies European Tour event, the Lalla Meryem Cup, although the LET event is to be played on the 36-hole venue's alternate layout, the Blue Course.
Similar concepts have been adopted on the Japan Tour and the Australasian Tour where men’s and women’s events are played at the same venue and, in the case of the Australian events, the men’s and women’s Victorian Opens at Thirteenth Beach, are actually played on the same layouts.
The Ladies European Tour event pales in comparison in terms of prize-money with the women playing for only €450,000.
The increase in prize money for the men has not really worked in terms of attracting a stronger field and the event's position in the schedule the week after the Masters makes it difficult to attract any of the game’s elite.
Australians currently entered in the Trophee Hassan II are Wade Ormsby, Richard Green and Nathan Holman.
Ormsby has a strong record in the event with two top-10s from two previous appearances and has shown improved form in recent starts and the chance to play a venue that he clearly enjoys might help to continue his improvement.
Holman is in Morocco for the first time and has missed five of six cuts in 2017 and will need a significant turnaround.
Defending champion, Korea’s Jeunhung Wang, is the leading world-ranked player in the field (48th) having also won the Mauritius Open and Qatar Masters in the last 12 months in addition to a runner-up finish at the Nedbank Challenge.
21-year-old Wang is considered one of the game’s rising stars and his return to the scene of his first European Tour victory will be watched with interest despite his missed cut last week at the Masters.
“I’m quite tired coming into this week as I have played some big tournaments in the Unites States, but I’m really happy to be back here and it’s a great tournament to play in," said Wang.
“Last year it was really tough conditions but I think this year it will be difficult too because the course is a bit tighter and it’s long too. If I play my own game though, maybe I can give myself a chance to win again.
“I can hardly remember how I won it last year but I holed three great putts and that was really lucky so hopefully I will get a little bit more luck this year too.
“I got another win this year too and it’s been a great year but everything started in Morocco, so it’s still the best win I’ve had because it was my first one on the European Tour.
“Augusta is my dream golf course and my dream tournament so I’m so happy to have played there, it was a great experience.”
Amongst the field for the Lalla Meryem Cup, Suzann Pettersen is the standout especially given her impressive recent showing at the ANA Inspiration.
Australians Whitney Hillier, Sarah Kemp, Stacey Peters and rookie Celina Yuan are also in the field.
PLAYER PROFILE: SARAH KEMP
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