Maha Haddioui is riding high on confidence after a career-best third place finish in the Investec South African Women’s Open last month and looking to capitalise in her home event, the Lalla Meryem Cup, being played this week at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in the Moroccan capital of Rabat.
Reflecting on her performance at Westlake Golf Club in Cape Town, the 29-year-old from Casablanca commented: “It obviously makes me feel confident and less pressured I guess, because I have proven to myself that I can secure a podium finish on Tour, especially in South Africa, when I was not hitting the ball so well.”
Maha, who represented Morocco in the Rio 2016 Olympic golf competition, lies in 28th position on the LET order of merit and hopes to benefit from home advantage playing on the Blue Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam.
“I really love the course here. It’s nice to be playing at home, as I get a lot of good vibes but at the same time I am getting a lot of pressure, mostly from myself. I am really excited and want to have a good week and try and secure a top-ten finish, that is my goal for the week.
“There is definitely added pressure but it’s not the people putting in on me, it’s me putting it on myself. The people are really encouraging and one thing that really lifts you up when playing golf is having a crowd follow you and it definitely helps to carry you.
“The course is playing tough, so I would think the winning score will be around minus 8 or possibly minus 10, as the conditions are better than last year. Last year we got quite a bit of wind, so let’s say minus 9!”
According to Maha, the newly developed practice facilities at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam are the best she has ever seen, with a new pitching and chipping area and a driving range which includes a narrow fairway and several small, target greens.
“I love it, they are amazing! I mean, I think I’m going to move to Rabat!” she said. “It is really good to have practice facilities like this, especially for all the girls on Tour. When you practice, you try to recreate what you are going to do on the course and we have an opportunity to do that now, as that is how the range has been designed. It’s just great and I’m sure a lot of girls will want to come and practice here in the off season now.”
After the perfect warm-up and preparation, Maha will take to the course at 9.07am local time on Thursday, playing with LET Rookies Luiza Altmann of Brazil and Casey Danielson from the United States, who won the LET’s Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifier in Marrakech in December and is looking for a Moroccan double.