Alex Levy will be hoping to draw on the memories of his 2018 victory at the Trophée Hassan II when he returns to the Red Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to defend his title this week.
I’m pleased to be here. The course looks really good. I like this place. It’s a tough golf course, and for sure, I played with some good memories of last year, so I’m happy to be here. I know I can play well on this golf course. I usually shoot a low score when I won tournaments, so last year was different – I won on 8-under.”
Levy has started the 2019 Race to Dubai campaign strongly, claiming a top five at the lucrative Saudi International powered by SBIA, but he has not made an appearance on the European Tour since being forced to withdraw from the Oman Open at the start of March due to a back injury.
“Yeah, it’s nice to be here and play that kind of golf course. But I haven’t played for almost three months, so it’s nice to be back in a place you like and you want to play.
“I think if you drive well the ball and putt well, I think that’s the key on this golf course. Also, it’s a tough golf course because when it’s windy, the wind switch a lot and it’s not easy, but yeah, I think you just have to play target golf, and on some flags, you can be offensive. Yeah, it’s a golf course I like.”
The Frenchman will make his return on a happy hunting ground, having claimed his fifth European Tour win in Morocco last year when he beat Spain’s Alvaro Quiros to the coveted bejewelled dagger trophy by one stroke. Victory in Rabat laid the platform for another successful year on the European Tour as the 28-year-old went on to finish 30th on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.
Also feeling fresh after a three-week break is Spain’s Jorge Campillo, who believes he is edging closer to a first European Tour title. The Spaniard finished runner-up twice, and third once, in four appearances in March.
“It’s taken me a while but I think I’m playing good. Hopefully I’ll get lucky enough one week to win. I’m trying to win every week and I’ve been close way too many times but I think the win, hopefully, is around the corner.
“I was playing well in the first part of the year, I wasn’t making any putts, but in March I putted good and played really solid so I’m quite happy about the last month.”
Another player who has recently made his return from injury is America’s Julian Suri. After missing the first five months of the season, Suri made his comeback at the Maybank Championship, where he finished in a share of 20th place, and then came joint-fourth at the Hero Indian Open. This will be his first appearance on the demanding par-73 Red Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam.
“The first two after the injury were more I went into with the mind-set that it was going to be a learning experience no matter what, shake some rust off, and you know, obviously I was in contention in India, a little earlier than I expected to be. But I was — it was good. Take it as a positive, three weeks to grind on my game and get ready for this kind of stretch that kicks off the summer.
“Not as much the finishes. I expected to be up there because I know how to compete, but it’s been a little while. I think more surprising was the consistency with my ball-striking. I’ve always been able to kind of scrap it around, score and get a decent finish.
“I essentially dominated that golf course in India for 90 per cent of the week – and that’s as tough of a golf course as you’ll ever play.”
The previous eight winners of the Trophée Hassan II are in the field this week, including 2017 champion Edoardo Molinari of Italy and South Korea’s Jeunghun Wang, who won in 2016 at the age of just 20 years and 256 days.