European golf champion murdered
A man has been charged with murder, hours after prominent Spanish golfer Celia Barquín Arozamena was found dead on an Iowa golf course.
Barquín, 22, won the European Ladies’ Amateur championship in July and was a leading student athlete at Iowa State University. Golfers at the Coldwater Golf Links in Ames discovered an unattended golf bag on the course early on Monday.
Barquín was found dead by police a short distance away. Police in the Iowa city of Ames said they had determined that Barquín died following an assault.
According to police, Barquin was found in a pond with “several stab wounds to the upper torso, head and neck”. Collin Daniel Richards, also 22, has been charged with her murder, police say.
At a court appearance on Tuesday, authorities said he is believe to be homeless, and that the crime was “random”.
Who was Celia Barquín?
Originally from Puente San Miguel in Spain, Barquín was finishing her degree in civil engineering this semester, the university said.
During her time in the US, she rose to prominence as a young golfer and was named Iowa State Female Athlete of the Year. She had also missed the first few weeks of university life in Iowa while participating in the Youth Olympic Games in China.
Her successful amateur career reached its highest point when she won the European Ladies Amateur Championship less than two months before her death.
Barquín shot a course-record 63 at Slovakia’s Penati Golf Resort in the third round on her way to a one-shot victory.
That came shortly after her win at the Big 12 Championship, a major American collegiate golf event.
Her European win had secured her an invitation to the professional Women’s British Open next year at Woburn, and she also qualified for the professional 2018 US Women’s Open.
Described as an “outstanding team player” by the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, she was part of the Spanish team that came third and second at the 2015 and 2016 European Amateur Team Championships.
Nacho Gervás, technical director of the Spanish Golf Federation, told El País newspaper: “She was a player who was heading for the very top, without a doubt.”
Who is the suspect?
Collin Daniel Richards had his first court appearance, lasting only minutes, on Tuesday.
Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said authorities consider Richards homeless, and believe the crime to be “a random act of violence”.
“The state believes him to be a flight risk, also believes him to be a danger to the community,” she said, according to the Des Moines Register newspaper.
A spokesman for Iowa State University said Richards is not a student and has never registered for classes there.
According to local media, he had been charged with several crimes in the past, including trespassing, public intoxication, and intimidation with a dangerous weapon.
Tributes from the golfing world
“We are all devastated,” said Iowa State’s head women’s golf coach, Christie Martens. “Celia was a beautiful person who was loved by all her team-mates and friends.”
In a video profile of the young golfer published in April, Barquín spoke about how Ms Martens had been “like my second mom, always taking care of me”.
Iowa State said she “was one of the most accomplished players in Cyclone golf history”, referring to the university’s sporting nickname.
Barquín will be honoured by the university at a football game on Saturday, a statement said.
The European Golf Association paid tribute to “a delightful young lady who inspired all who met her”.
In her native Spain, her death made headlines and many came forward to express their sympathy.
Spanish professional golfer Azahara Muñoz posted a photo of the two together on Instagram, writing: “Waking up to the news that Celia won’t be around anymore is heartbreaking.”
The head of Spain’s Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco, spoke of his deep shock at the tragedy and solidarity with Celia Barquín’s family.
The country’s sporting minister José Guirao said Barquín had had a great future ahead of her, adding, “her loss leaves us broken”.
LaLiga, Spain’s top football body, tweeted: “Rest in peace, Celia Barquín – we’ll never forget your smile”.