The golf world awoke on Tuesday to the stunning and tragic news of the senseless murder of European Ladies’ Amateur champion and former Iowa State golfer Celia Barquín Arozamena. According to multiple news reports, the 22-year-old Spaniard was practicing at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, Iowa, near the campus of Iowa State, on Monday afternoon. Late in the day, other golfers discovered her golf bag, unattended. Barquín’s body was discovered in a pond on the course a short distance away.
According to police, Barquín was assaulted and murdered on the course. Authorities quickly arrested 22-year-old Collin Daniel Richards, a homeless man well known to local police. Richards has been charged with first-degree murder. According to the complaint, Richards allegedly stabbed Barquín multiple times in the torso, head and neck. Police dogs tracked Barquín’s scent to an encampment near a creek where Richards was discovered with multiple scratches to his face, consistent with a struggle, and lacerations on his hands that he attempted to conceal.
The complaint said Richards had told an acquaintance that he had a strong urge to “rape and kill a woman.” Another person who knew Richards said that the man arrived back at his makeshift tent on Monday covered in blood, which he quickly washed off in the creek.
Police recovered blood-stained shorts and a knife on Monday.
Barquín, who was the reigning Big 12 individual champion and the Iowa State Female Athlete of the Year, qualified for the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open and had earned a spot in the 2019 Women’s British Open at Woburn through her victory in the European Women’s Amateur Championship. That victory, which came two months before her murder, included a course-record 63 at the Penati Golf Resort in Slovakia.
Andrés Barquín, Celia’s brother, is acting as family spokesman. He told Spanish media that they were “following procedure step by step,” and at the moment the family had no plans to travel to the U.S. “We are destroyed, trying to take in what has happened,” Andrés said. “We ask for privacy to try and cope at a very difficult time.”
“It’s a very difficult moment,” said Mabel Pascual del Pobil, captain of the Spanish women’s national team. “Celia was a very special girl, very intelligent, who fought very hard for her goals. She had very clear ideas. She knew what she wanted and fought to achieve that. She would always offer to help you and was a great teammate. Anytime I had to leave her out of a foursomes or a match-play match, she was the first to go running out onto the course with the Spanish flag to cheer on the team.
“Afterwards, she’d come to you and tell you she was ready to play if she was needed. ‘If you believe in me, I’m ready to play,’ she would say. She was always straight up and said what she thought, even if you might not like it.”
“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 teammates and friends. She loved Iowa State and was an outstanding representative for our school. We will never forget her competitive drive to be the best and her passion for life.”
The Cyclones immediately withdrew from the East & West Match Play tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich., where they were competing.
In Minneapolis at the Annika Intercollegiate, players openly wept as a moment of silence was held on Tuesday prior to the second round.
Speaking to Ten-Golf.com at the Portugal Masters, Sergio García said, “I was warming up this morning when my father received a message and he told us about Celia. It’s difficult for a normal person to understand something like that but sadly there are savages with mental problems all over the world. It’s hard because it hits closer to home. This was a girl we knew, from our world. It’s not like it was a car accident or something like that. He saw her and killed her. And that was that. There is no explanation.
“It’s very difficult to know what to say,” García continued. “Myself and the whole García family sends a warm embrace to her family and wish them strength in a very difficult moment.”
Mar Ruiz de la Torre, president of the women’s amateur committee of the Spanish Golf Federation said: “I perfectly remember the first time I travelled with Celia. It was a tournament in Chiberta in France, one of the classics on the women’s calendar. We arrived late at around 4 and we couldn’t find anywhere to eat. So, I got the clubhouse staff to give us some ham, chocolate and a little bread. But she had a plan B. Her father is a butcher and she had packed pork loin in her luggage.”
De la Torre added: “I am certain I will always tell the other girls that Celia was a role model to imitate, for her preparation for her studies and the hard worker she was. And for her tenacity. I’d say that was her greatest attribute. She always worked very hard both on the golf course and at university to achieve what she wanted to be. She was always smiling, a mature girl and very easy to get along with. She had very ideas about where she wanted to go.”
Barquín had finished her athletic eligibility with the Cyclones and was on schedule to graduate in December. She was also preparing her competitive calendar in the hopes of qualifying for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April.
A tribute is planned for Saturday during Iowa State’s home football game against the University of Akron.