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East London golfer makes Morocco cut

PUBLISHED: 14:16 16 October 2015 | UPDATED: 14:17 16 October 2015

East London's Rene Hawkins will compete in the grand final of the Morocco Matchplay next year (pic: Dave Bowers/The Azalea Group)

East London's Rene Hawkins will compete in the grand final of the Morocco Matchplay next year (pic: Dave Bowers/The Azalea Group)

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Hawkins heading to grand final in 2016

An amateur golfer from Victoria Park, East London, has won an expenses-paid trip to Morocco after qualifying from the UK regional singles final of the 2015 Morocco Matchplay, powered by HowDidiDo.

Rene Hawkins, a 12-handicapper, secured the second and final qualifying spot at the Morocco Matchplay southern regional singles final, at the Manor House GC, Castle Combe, in Wiltshire, scoring 36 points.

He will now take his place in February’s grand final to be played at the stunning Golf de Mogador, in Essaouira, a beautiful 16th-century, fortified harbour town on Morocco’s Atlantic coast.

Hawkins said: “I know Peter Jones, who I played with and who won the event, and he had 13 one-putts, which is phenomenal golf. And the other guy finished fourth with 35 points, so it was a good group to go out in. When you’re playing with good people it makes the game easier.

“It was a great course and the event’s really well organised. Everybody turns up and knows what they’re doing, gets out there and plays golf. This is the first time I’ve competed in this event.

“I’ve played a lot of competitive golf, but not much for the last three years. I’ve got back into it now and feel fresh and rejuvenated. It’s worked out well.

“Four weeks ago I shot 25 points in a club stableford, so it’s still very up and down. I just hope I can pull out something good in Morocco. At the end of it I didn’t think I’d done well enough to qualify. I thought there’d be plenty with a better score than me - especially with Peter getting 44 points.

“I played some good holes, some average holes and one bad hole. I finished with three points on the last and I think that’s what got me in.”

It will not be his first visit to Morocco, but it will certainly be a different experience to the last time.

He added: “I went fishing in Morocco 10 years ago and it was a strange experience to say the least. There was plenty of fish but no infrastructure, it was kind of raw - we had to rough it for seven days. But I’m looking forward to it this time.”

In total, 32 competitors will enjoy complimentary return flights to Morocco, five nights’ accommodation at the five-star Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa hotel - nestled in the lush surroundings of a wild beach lined with eucalyptus and mimosa, overlooking the Atlantic and the golf courses - and four rounds of golf at nearby Golf de Mogador.

Participants will also receive a welcome reception and cocktail evening, and a final night presentation gala dinner.

The highly rated Gary Player-designed links-style course, which dates from 2009, demands long carries between tees and fairways, as the vegetation and sand shape the layout.

Four competitions culminate at the grand final, sponsored for a second year by the Moroccan National Tourist Office: singles, pairs, mixed pairs and senior pairs, with 32 golfers, from across the UK, ultimately fighting it out for the titles.

Each finalist will have played up to four qualifying rounds merely to reach the regional final, with the knockout rounds taking place between June and September, and the regional finals in October.

The Moroccan National Tourist Office’s director for UK and Ireland, Amine Boughaleb, said: “Last year was the centenary of golf in Morocco and, fittingly, the first year our country was the title sponsor of the HowDidiDo Matchplay. The event was such a huge success, however, for both the participants and Morocco, that we were only too happy to renew our association with the competition.

“We are confident that the excellent facilities on offer at both the hotel and golf course will leave the lucky 32 golfers keen to return to see more of our beautiful country.”

The burgeoning Kingdom of Morocco has 29 golf courses to be enjoyed in year-round sunshine - plus 11 more under construction - and, with flight times of less than three-and-a-half hours from the UK and Ireland, it is a hugely attractive alternative to the more traditional golf destinations of Europe.

HowDidiDo is Europe’s largest golfing community, holding in excess of 21 million rounds of golf along with the handicaps, results and scores of more than 1,300,000 UK golf club members. Around 2,000 golf clubs and more than 460,000 golfers currently use the HowDidiDo system.

*The Morocco Matchplay, powered by HowDidiDo, takes place from February 7-12, 2016.

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