From left to right: Jose Maria Olazabal, Gwladys Nocera, Michael Hoey, Sharmila Nicollet, Robert Karlsson, Maha Haddioui, Laura Davies and Paul McGinley.
"Unique, special, different and exciting!" These were some of the words that the eight players at the first ever "Exhibition Mixed Match" used yesterday to describe the event that took place during the afternoon at the Golf Royal du Palais to celebrate the Lalla Meryem Cup 20th anniversary.
The European Tour and the Ladies European Tour got together and joined some of the top players and golf legends such as : Jose Maria Olazabal, Paul McGinley, Robert Karlsson and Laura Davies. The eight professionals played six holes at the Golf du Palais Royal, venue of the Trophee Hassan II, a mixed greensome-foursome paired as follows: Laura Davies-Paul McGinley, Gwladys Nocera with Jose Maria Olazabal, Maha Haddioui with Robert Karlsson and Sharmila Nicollet with Michael Hoey. The couple Nocera-Olazabal finished +1 as well as Davies-McGinley, but the result was the less important... There was just one winner: golf.
Laura Davies and Paul McGinley getting ready for the event
Paul McGinley commented: “It’s always great to play with the girls. My wife used to play in the Ladies Tour, so I am familiar with the good players and it’s nice to see. My partner at the Exhibition Match, Laura, is very impressive and a great girl. I also know Gwladys and some other players because my wife follows the Ladies European Tour still and watches it on TV. We were also excited at the Solheim Cup, too.”
Maha Haddioui: “I am really glad we are having this Exhibition Match this year. It is really a way of taking advantage of having both men and women at the same time and place, so I think it had to happen and I hope that it is going to be bigger over the next years. The players at this Exhibition are really good players and I am really glad to be able to play with them. It is a great experience and also a very good opportunity to learn from them.”
Jose Maria Olazabal commented: “To play this type of exhibition match is great because it’s a completely different event from what we are used to playing. This is the first time that we have done something like this on the European Tour and I like it. This allows you to get away somehow from the same routine that we have at every other tournament and makes it special and different from another normal tournament.”
The Lalla Meryem Cup and Hassan II Golf Trophy will be played simultaneously in Agadir from March 13-16 this week at Golf de l’Ocean and Golf du Palais Royal.