2008-10-28

DUBAI –- Paul McGinley will be hoping to emulate the feat of his compatriot and defending champion Padraig Harrington when he competes in the forthcoming Hassan II Golf Trophy by Emaar to be held in the Moroccan capital of Rabat from November 5 to 9 this year.

Double major winner Harrington, making his debut in Morocco last year, left an indelible mark at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam with a brilliant three-shot victory over Darren Clarke in the country’s longest-running tournament. Harrington won’t be there to defend his title this year and in his absence McGinley will carry the Irish flag – and hopes.

McGinley, who forever will be remembered as the guy who holed the winning putt in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory at the Belfry in 2002, will need to conjure another piece of magic if he aims to keep the Irish eyes smiling.

The Irishman, who posted six top-10 finishes this season with his best being a runner-up place in the KLM Open, will be joined by a star-studded field led by Ernie Els, who also will be making his first appearance in the event which is jointly being promoted and organized by the Hassan II Golf Trophy Society and ‘golf in DUBAI.’

“I am looking forward to playing in this tournament which has an interesting format,” said McGinley who finished tied 14th in the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year. “With players like Ernie in the field, I will have to play my best golf to be in contention for the title,” said the affable Irishman who would like to be remembered as a guy who had a very successful career.

“Indeed he is enjoying a good career and his winning putt at Belfry has become part of the Ryder Cup folklore,” said Mohamed Chaibi, Executive Director of the Hassan II Golf Trophy by Emaar. “We are delighted to welcome him to Rabat and I am sure his presence will provide a massive boost to our tournament,” he added.

Commented Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice-chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAI: “Paul has been a great friend of Dubai having competed in the Dubai Desert Classic a number of times. With players like Ernie Els and Mark O’Meara who pipped Paul for the 2004 Dubai Desert Classic title, adding star value and status to the event, we are looking forward to seeing some quality golf.”

“I wish Paul and all other players in the field the very best and may the best player win the trophy,” he added.

Since its inauguration in 1971, the Hassan II Golf Trophy has attracted some of the finest players in the game and has helped launch the careers of the likes of Payne Stewart, Vijay Singh and David Toms.

Golf, first introduced to Morocco in the 1920s, has since developed into a national passion, thanks to the unflinching support of His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid, Chairman of Hassan II Golf Trophy Society.