THE Australian pack of players competing at the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco this week have a career-altering opportunity at one of the European Tour’s most interesting events.
The Red Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat plays host to this week’s €1.5 million event, which is run concurrently alongside the Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Meryem Cup.
With some of the European Tour’s biggest names bypassing the trip to Africa, the ten Australians teeing it up can look to take advantage of a weakened field.
New professionals Todd Sinnott and Ben Eccles will be desperate to make their mark on the big stage having gained invitations into this week’s field.
It will be Sinnott’s first start on the European Tour this season, outside of the co-sanctioned Australian events in Perth and the Gold Coast.
The powerful 24-year-old was in contention at the halfway stage on both of those occasions.
Victorian Eccles’ only start on the circuit outside of Australia saw a missed cut at the Tshwane Open, but he proved he could adapt to foreign conditions with a T9 on South Africa’s Sunshine Tour the following week.
Compatriots Kristopher Mueck and Ryan Lynch have also been given spots in this week’s field, but have only tested themselves at European Tour level this season on home soil for a combined four missed cuts.
Tour regular Jason Scrivener is back this week in his quest to crack the top 60 on the Race To Dubai rankings and cement a place in the season-ending finals series.
The West Australian’s consistent year has seen just one missed cut, but only two top 25 finishes, Scrivener improving on last year’s accuracy off the tee to be ranked 37th on Tour in that category.
He’ll need every bit of that ability this week on the Red Course, which measures a brutal 6846 metres.
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Three-time European Tour winner Richard Green is coming off four consecutive missed cuts around the globe and boasts career-lows in stroke average, driving distance, greens in regulation and putts per round.
Journeyman Daniel Gaunt is coming off a T32 result in Spain on the Challenge Tour last week but Africa hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the 37-year-old in 2016.
In three events on the continent this season Gaunt is yet to make a weekend and has only broken 70 on one occasion.
A pair of top 25 finishes at the Perth International and Indian Open in his last three European Tour starts have kept Terry Pilkadaris afloat, who at 152nd on the Race To Dubai rankings is just 17 spots behind countryman Dimi Papadatos.
24-year-old Papadatos missed the cut at last week’s China Open by two strokes after a deflating double-bogey on 14 and a bogey on 17 on Friday afternoon.
The final Australian teeing it up this week is 2014 Australian Masters champion Nick Cullen, the South Australian desperately needing to make the most of a European Tour start after struggling for opportunities in 2016.
He carded three rounds of 70 and a 71 last week in Beijing to find some level of consistency and will be better for the run heading into this week’s event.
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