*Each-way 1/4 odds, 5 places
Much of what Steve says in his preview fits the narrative for my selection Thomas Detry winning this week. Like the last two course winners, Detry is a classy youngster looking for his first victory, he has considerable minor tour form (not least his 12 shot Challenge Tour victory last year) and will surely be inspired by one of his very best friend's (Thomas Pieters) wonderful debut performance at last week's Masters. It'd be no surprise at all should Detry join Pieters at Augusta next year, in fact I consider it very likely.
Pablo Larrazabal isn't known for consistency but his peak standard has achieved arguably more than anyone in this field. Four times a winner at this level, he started the year with an outstanding second place in the elite Abu Dhabi Championship and while three subsequent Euro Tour events were failures, hitting over 75% of greens in regulation in each bodes well for his form. Historically, Pablo's forte has been putting - this week's key stat - and he should feel confident returning to the country where he finished top-four in both 2013 and 2015. Regardless of his personal form case, there has never been a better time to showcase the fine condition of Spanish golf and their numerous contenders may well be inspired after Sergio's breakthrough at the Masters.
Welcome back, European Tour, hope you enjoyed your break. Yes, I know many of the last month's big events are co-sanctioned by the two big tours but this seems like the sort of event we associate with the European Tour - bit of a substandard field playing golf somewhere that isn't actually in Europe. Nevertheless, there will be a winner and it's our job to take an educated guess at finding that man. And I'm rather happy to put up rising Spaniard Nacho Elvira as my selection this week. A runner-up at this tournament last year, that was one of six top-10s achieved by Elvira on what was his breakthrough season on tour. He started the year in fine fashion, making all three cuts across the Desert Swing and finishing sixth in Qatar and 11th in Dubai. I don't mind overlooking missed cuts in Malaysia, South Africa and India after that as I think he will find this test more to his liking and, like Paul above, am keen to back a Spaniard the week after Sergio's first major win.
The recent WGC event in Mexico and the US Masters are on the European Tour schedule but most of the field in Morocco this week are playing for the first time in over a month, so who's hot and who's not is a bit of a guessing game. The last two course winners, Rhys Davies and Jeunghun Wang, were youngsters winning for the first time and I can see another in the same mould in the shape of Sweden's Joakim Lagergren, who might just have benefited from the pause in the schedule. Fine efforts in Portugal, Turkey and in particular, Qatar, where he was beaten in a playoff, suggested a breakthrough was imminent but he looked jaded after that. He missed his last two cuts, in Malaysia and South Africa, so the break may have come at just the right time for the 25-year-old and he could be value to bounce back now refreshed at 66/1.
There are some players in this week's field that, if back to anywhere near their best, would be serious contenders for the title come Sunday afternoon. The likes of Joost Luiten, Matteo Manassero, Pablo Larazabal, Stephen Gallacher, Nicolas Colsaerts etc, all class acts on their day and all multiple European Tour winners. But the one I like who fits into the exact same bracket is France's Alexander Levy. A three-time winner on the European Tour this classy 26-year-old finished fourth on his last outing in February, and finished just outside of the top 30 on his course debut here 12 months ago, which wasn't a bad effort given he shot a third round 77. Levy had admitted that he is desperate to qualify for next year's Ryder Cup in his homeland, and now would be a good time to start finding some form with the points qualifying starting in a few months time. At an industry-best 40/1 he's my pick this week.