Sunday November 9, 2008 | 02:26:40 pm

RABAT, MOROCCO – It’s no secret who the big ticket was this week at the King Hassan II Trophy in Morocco (aside from Prince Moulay Rachid residing over the tournament, of course), but it was none other than the Big Easy, Ernie Els. This is the first time the South African has been to Morocco, and he was the biggest draw in a 24-man field filled with mostly European Tour players like Johan Edfors and Paul McGinley. Mark O’Meara and Bobby Casper rounded out the American contingent.

While the big money is in China this week for the HSBC Champions, Els brought his buttery smooth swing to Rabat’s Royal Dar es Salam Golf Club, and scored a come-from-behind win over Paul McGinley Sunday.

One reason Els is here this week (other than I’m sure a hefty paycheck from the King himself) is his design firm is currently scouting locations in Morocco for potential golf course & real estate projects. Rabat itself has plenty of construction happening along the coastline and elsewhere.

So while Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia duel it out Sunday, Els took home the crown in Morocco, and possibly scored some design projects in the process.

On the women’s side, Laura Davies won the Princess Lalla Cup on Saturday. And in the highly-contested Media Cup that morning, I finished middle-of-the-pack, to which I blame the rental clubs and no golf shoes.

That said, I am certainly looking forward to returning to Morocco. Rabat is not necessarily the first choice for tourists, but at the same time, it means you can visit some pretty interesting places void of crowds or lines. I’ve also never been in a city where taxis are so cheap. I don’t think we’ve paid more than $3 for a taxi ride all trip.

I’ve also never seen a motorcycle with a man, woman, and infant baby sandwiched between them, none of them wearing helmets, and I’ve never gone to a bar that told us the woman with us wasn’t allowed in. This is a very interesting country - and one where I feel I’ve only scratched the surface. I’d write more tonight, but it’s time for our last night out and I just scored a few primo Cuban cigars to celebrate a great week!

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