AGADIR, Morocco -- Francesco Molinari is targeting a victory in the Hassan II Trophy after playing in the pre-tournament pro-am with the Crown Prince of Morocco, HRH Prince Moulay Rachid.
Established by the late King of Morocco in 1971, the event is celebrating its 40th anniversary edition this week, with His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid marking the occasion by participating in the pro-am at the Golf du Palais Royal.
Molinari, the highest ranked player in the field at 39th in the Official World Golf Ranking, was given the honor of partnering His Highness, who plays off a handicap of 12, before the European Tour event gets underway on Thursday.
"It was a great privilege for me to play with the prince," said Molinari. "I had the chance to meet him last night and he is a very nice, down to earth guy. He just loves his golf and is very knowledgeable about the game and the top players.
"It is not every day that you get the chance to play golf with royalty, so it is a very humbling experience for me."
Molinari is confident that his game is getting back to its best as the first major championship of the season approaches.
Currently one of two players in the field heading to the Masters (the other is two-time champion Jose María Olazabal), the 30-year-old Italian is aware of his pre-tournament favorite status, but is doing his best to ignore the fact he will be a marked man this week.
"My game is getting there," he said. "I took a lot of time off at the start of the year to get ready for the whole season so have just been getting better over the last few weeks.
"I played okay in America and just need to play a bit more competitive golf," he added. "If I can have a good scoring week here and play well, then I will be ready for Augusta.
"It's never easy to be the top ranked guy in the field," he explained. "I have had that in the past, but you have to try not to think about and try to do the best I can.
"There are so many other good players in the field this week that you can't start to think that you should be doing well because you are one of the favorites to win. You just have to try and play the golf course and take your chances when they come."