Rio 2016 hopefuls head to Rabat

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Olympic golf may not be to every professional's liking, but a host of Rio hopefuls will look to boost their chances at the Trophee Hassan II.

France's Alexander Levy and Ryan Fox of New Zealand can boost their chances of qualifying for Rio 2016 with strong displays in Rabat.

Some stellar names from the sport have withdrawn from contention, with heavy scheduling and the Zika virus cited.

With rain forecast for days one and four, as well as heavy storms predicted on the eve of the tournament, the tournament could prove a true test of players' resolve.

Ballesteros will also be a name to keep an eye out for, as golfing royalty Seve's son Javier competes in his first Tour event of the year.

 

HOT BEEF IS ONE TO WATCH
Andrew 'Beef' Johnston has earned top-25 finishes in four of his last seven appearances, including his maiden European Tour title last time out at the Open de Espana, and has made the cut in both of his previous cracks at this tournament, although this is his first time playing at Rabat.

 

BACK TO WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Rabat's Royal Golf Dar Es Salam will host the event for the first time since its maiden appearance on the European Tour in 2010. The spectacular par-three ninth will see players try to find the island green over a vast lily pond and onlooking flamingos.

 

LEVY LINING UP THE OLYMPICS
Levy is currently in position to join Victor Dubuisson at Rio 2016 for France.
 
He said: "A lot of good players from France can be in the Olympics and some big events are coming. A lot of points are there [to play for] and you need to play well the next few weeks to get your chance at the Olympics that's for sure."

 

CAN WATTEL GO ONE BETTER?
Romain Wattel returns after he was pipped to the title by Ramsay last year - the Scot enduring a rollercoaster ride to victory having followed four successive birdies with a bogey and triple bogeys, before another burst of consecutive gains gave him a one shot win over France's Wattel.

 

PLAYERS' VIEW
Fox's father Grant was Rugby World Cup winner in 1987, and he hopes to add to the family success: He said: "We've got a bit of sporting heritage in our family, but to the first to represent New Zealand in the Olympics would be an absolute privilege and something I'd always cherish."


The event runs concurrently with one on the Ladies' Tour and Levy is looking forward to making acquaintances with unfamiliar faces: "It hasn't been done before, so it's really nice. We are sharing a players' lounge this week, so it will be good to have lunch with the ladies and get to know them better."