A new chapter in the history of the Lalla Meryem Cup will be written in 2011, when the event is played in the Moroccan city of Agadir from March 31 to April 3.
For the first time in European golf history, this international resort will host both the Ladies European Tour and European Tour events in the same city in the same week.
With a purse of €325,000, the Lalla Meryem Cup is ranked tenth in terms of prize money on the LET, and will be played in 2011 at Golf du Soleil in Agadir with Germany’s Anja Monke defending the title she won last March.
This is the second year that the Lalla Meryem Cup has featured on the Ladies European Tour schedule, although played since 1993. Anja Monke won the title last year when part of the Ladies European Tour schedule for the first time, coming from one shot behind going into the final round at Royal Golf Anfa Mohammedia, firing a closing 69 to capture her third LET victory by a one stroke margin over Carin Koch.
Her victory provided the springboard for a superb 2010 season in which she posted three additional top ten finishes went on to finish 11th on the Henderson Money List with season’s earnings of €125,393.
Other players in the field include recent Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open champion Kristie Smith of Australia, Trish Johnson, Becky Brewerton, Virginie Lagoutte-Clement, Karen Lunn, Florentyna Parker, Tania Elosegui and Marianne Skarpnord.
A number of rookies will make their Ladies European Tour professional debut at the event. They include the 16-year-old Czech player Klara Spilkova, the LET’s youngest ever member, who qualified at Tour School in December and is still studying at high school in Prague.
“My goal is to play as good as I can, to make cuts and finally to win at least one tournament,” said Spilkova, who started to play golf aged four with her brother Lukas at at Golf Club Erpet Praha, before earning an exemplary amateur record, which includes victories at the 2010 Austrian and Czech women’s amateur championships.
“I am very excited. Being a professional has always been my dream. I am looking forward to a completely new experience. It is my first tournament of this season and I would like to play in a new environment. I will try to play my best golf and I am very much looking forward to the season.”
She is joined by fellow LET rookies Jaclyn Sweeney of the United States, Australian Stacey Keating, Sweden’s Louise Larsson and Lucie André of France, among others.
On the men’s European Tour, The Trophée Hassan II, which retains its original ‘Alliance’ (Pro-Am) format for the first two rounds, will be played over two outstanding venues, the unique Golf du Palais Royal, designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr and considered by many to be one of the finest courses in the world, and the superb new course at Golf de L’Ocean.
Amateurs and professionals will be privileged to play on these stunning facilities, thanks to the patronage of the Moroccan Royal Family, which has been such a generous supporter of golf, since the original event was hosted by HM late King Hassan II in 1971.
The 2011 prize fund has also been increased to €1,500,000, with players and VIP guests being hosted at the superb ocean-facing Sofitel Hotel. A Royal Air Maroc charter has been arranged on Monday March 28 to take players direct from Malaga to Agadir, returning to London Gatwick following the conclusion of the event on the Sunday.
The defending champion is Rhys Davies, whose phenomenal season last year was launched with his victory in the 2010 Trophée Hassan II in Rabat, where he held off the challenge of Louis Oosthuizen, who went to achieve Major Championship success by winning The Open at St Andrews last July.
The Association Trophée Hassan II, organiser of both the Trophée Hassan II and the Lalla Meryem Cup, is a non-profit sport association established on 2002. Its main purpose is to organise, in addition to the two major events, other competitions integrating international satellite Tours such as the EPD Tour and eGolf Tour.
Chaired by His Royal Highness the Prince Moulay Rachid, the Association contributes to the development of national golf and aims the promotion of the Kingdom of Morocco as a premium golf destination.