Lowry’s Royal reception in Morocco

Shane Lowry has never played Augusta National but believes it would be easier to play a round of golf on next month’s Masters venue than to tee up on this week’s host Hassan II Trophy course at Agadir.

Lowry was the second European Tour player this year to take to the ultra-exclusive Royal course which was for the sole use of one man, the late King of Morocco, Hassan II and now is for the exclusive use of his son, His Majesty King Mohammed VI.

The Royal Course is laid out in and around the grounds of the Royal Palace bounded on one side by the Atlantic Ocean and protected on the other three by 12-foot high walls.

There’s also a road and a high barbed wire fencing running the length of the walls with armed military personnel stationed every 100 metres.

Lowry and some 150 players, caddies and officials were aboard a special Royal Air Maroc flight that left Malaga Airport direct to Agadir late on Monday. Prior to Lowry competing in yesterday’s Pro-Am there, only 30 people had played the course in the 12 months since England’s David Horsey captured the 38th edition of the Hassan 11 Trophy in 2011.

“I would agree it’s probably easier to get a game at Augusta and there is certainly no course’s in Ireland like this as they are all access friendly,” said Lowry.

“And in many ways, it’s very much a privilege to play here and we are grateful to the King of Morocco for letting us play here this week.

“You almost feel embarrassed to take a divot as the golf course is that good.”

Meanwhile the European Tour last night confirmed the Iberdrola Open in Mallorca has been cancelled.

The event, scheduled to begin on May 10 at Pula Golf Club, set Darren Clarke on the way to major glory, as he ended his winless run at last year’s renewal before going on to win the Open.

But it will not take place, as organisers have been unable to make the books balance on account of a lack of sponsorship.

“It’s just a reflection of the tough economic times everyone is facing at present,” Keith Waters, chief operating officer with the European Tour, said.

Javier Ballesteros, the son of Seve Ballesteros who plays off a handicap of 0.0, was invited by tournament host Jose Maria Olazabal to play as an amateur. Ballesteros said: “It’s a bit disappointing as I was looking forward to playing in Mallorca.”

Meanwhile Rathmore’s Alan Dunbar competes in his fourth successive European Nations Cup for Ireland today as the team looks to better its fifth place in 2011.

England have won at Sotogrande in Spain for the last three years but the Irish contingent should be confident of ending the reigning champions’ stranglehold on the trophy. Dunbar, who has also been part of teams that have finished sixth and fourth, is joined in the four-man squad by Muskerry’s Niall Gorey, Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy and Reeve Whitson from Mourne.

The Nations Cup runs until Saturday and also incorporates an individual championship, jointly won by World number two golfer, Rory McIlroy, back in 2007.

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