Anja Monke will bid to become only the second player to successfully defend the Lalla Meryem Cup when she tackles Golf du Soleil, in Agadir, from 31 March- 3 April.
The event was first staged in 1993 but the only player to have successfully defended the title was Johanna Head in 2003. Monke captured her third LET title by a one stroke margin over Carin Koch when the tournament became officially sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour for the first time in 2010 at Royal Anfa Mohammedia, coming from one shot behind going into the final day.
Reflecting on her victory in Mohammedia, she said: “My memories of my last win in Morocco are still great. That win was so unexpected; it was my first event I played in last year. My preparation took place in the snow in Germany and it felt strange to hit from real grass in Morocco again.
“I really liked the golf course we played on last year. It was in amazing shape and I enjoyed it a lot. Of course, I remember the 16th hole of my final round very well. It was a par five, reachable in two. I hit a hybrid into the green; it was a kind of blind shot and I felt I hit it pretty good. When I reached the green I saw my ball about three feet from the hole. I made eagle and this hole secured my victory.
“To receive the trophy from the Royal family was a very special experience, to walk up the stage over the red carpet and then facing the prince and princess. I was not sure whether to drop a curtsy and I never practised one before, but I gave it a try. I did meet the prince the night before for a dinner already and we had a very nice conversation. The hospitality in Morocco was very friendly, open minded and very welcoming. I really enjoyed my time last year and I did try many Moroccan flavours and dishes. The spices are different and very tasty in my opinion.”
Ahead of this year’s tournament, Monke will have fine tuned her game in the warmer climes of Australia and New Zealand, where she competed in the ISPS HANDA Australian Open, ANZ RACV Ladies Masters and the Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open, with a season-best tie for 37th. She has since been warming up in temperatures of around 27 degrees Celsius in Arizona, a far cry from the snowy conditions in her native Germany.
“I am in the US at the moment and practise in Scottsdale, Arizona,” she explained. “The weather and the practise facilities are awesome. Maybe I should have stayed in Germany, get some snow and practise with five layers on, how I did the year before my win in Morocco. I will try to play well and then see how I end up.”
The 72-hole stroke play event will field 126 players including 110 professionals and 16 invited players. There will be a cut to the leading 60 professionals and ties after two rounds.