|The 2011 Lalla Meryem Cup champion, Zuzana Kamasova, is presented with a silver jewellery box by His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid, President of the Hassan II Golf Trophy Society
The 18th edition of the Lalla Meryem Cup will once again see the Ladies European Tour given Morocco’s Royal seal of approval when the event moves to Golf de L’Ocean in Agadir next week.
Slovakia’s Zuzana Kamasova returns to defend the title she won at nearby Golf du Soleil 12 months ago, when she made history as the Ladies European Tour’s first ever winner not only from her country, which has just 6000 golfers, but also from Eastern Europe.
This year’s Lalla Meryem Cup, to be played from March 22-25, will once again welcome the patronage of Princess Lalla Meryem at one of the truly unique tournaments on the Ladies European Tour schedule. The men’s European Tour will also descend upon Agadir over the same dates, with the Trophée Hassan II being played at the nearby Golf du Palais Royal, forming part of the Palace grounds belonging to His Majesty King Mohammed VI.
For Kamasova and the rest of the 126-woman field set to do battle for the €325,000 prize fund, the Lalla Meryem Cup has been a special tournament since it joined the Ladies European Tour schedule for the first time in 2010.
“Agadir is obviously special to me and I’m excited to go back and play,” said Kamasova, who won the title by two strokes last year over Caroline Masson, Kiran Matharu and Alexandra Bonetti.
“That’s the only week when the guys are playing in the same place as well and it’s supported by the Royal Family and we are treated super nicely. It’s the start of the season and we expect great weather. I’ve heard it’s a really good course and the guys played there last year. It’s supposedly tricky when the wind gets up as we experienced last year at Golf du Soleil.
“I have awesome memories and returning to the place where I first won is special, but it carries some responsibility as well. It’s new and I haven’t experienced it before: defending a title. I want to enjoy myself, take each shot at a time and see how it goes, because that’s what I did last year and it just clicked. I have heard my picture is on the posters but on the other hand, it was last year and not this year, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Kamasova was playing the Lalla Meryem Cup on an invitation last year, with very limited status on the Ladies European Tour, expecting only three starts at best. However since earning her maiden victory, she has been able to plan and play a full tournament schedule.
Her life has changed in many ways but she has prepared for this year’s Lalla Meryem Cup in the same way: six weeks of snowboarding in Slovakia followed by two and a half weeks with her golf coach Skip Malek in South Carolina. She is also teeing up at the Terre Blanche Ladies Open on the LET Access Series this week as a warm-up, but still plans to take The R&A Rules Exam as part of a pioneering R&A Rules School being run in conjunction with the LET at the end of April.
That will be a very different test to the examination posed by Golf de L’Ocean next week, but Kamasova is looking forward to the challenge.
Like the Trophée Hassan II, the Lalla Meryem Cup offers a magnificent image of Moroccan golf, bringing many of the world’s finest exponents of the game to Morocco.
Founded in 1993, therefore 22 years after the creation of the Trophée Hassan II, the year 2010 marked a turning point in the history of the Lalla Meryem Cup, as the number of competitors rose from an average of 12 in previous editions to 126 as an official event on the Ladies European Tour.
From 1993-2009, the Lalla Meryem Cup was played on the Blue course at Royal Golf Dar-es-Salam and moved to Royal Golf Mohammedia in 2010, before moving to Golf du Soleil in 2011.
The Trophée Hassan II was founded in 1971 by the late King Hassan II. Since King Hassan II’s death in 1999, his sons, King Mohammed VI and Prince Moulay Rachid, have carried on the tradition of the tournament as they look to showcase Morocco as an outstanding destination for golf tourism.
After playing the Trophée Hassan II in a pro-am format over two golf courses last year, the 39th edition of the tournament will see a return to a more ‘traditional’ professional event, with 124 players competing under regular strokeplay conditions over the Golf du Palais Royal.