Celia Barquin Arozamena, a 22-year-old Spaniard who won the European Ladies’ Amateur Championship in July, was found a short distance away from her unattended golf bag at Coldwater Golf Links in Iowa early on Monday.
A 22-year-old man, Collin Daniel Richards, has been charged with murdering Barquin Arozamena, who was a student at Iowa State University.
“We are all devastated,” Iowa State head women’s golf coach, Christie Martens, said in a story posted on the team’s website. “Celia was a beautiful person who was loved by all her team-mates 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 news was greeted with dismay by leading golfers around the world, including current European No 1 Tommy Fleetwood.
“I’ve always grown up thinking a golf course is the safest place you can be,” wrote last year’s Race to Dubai winner on Twitter. “Where is safe these days?”
Catriona Matthew, Europe’s Solheim Cup captain, described Barquin Arozamena’s murder as “devastating news” while fellow Scot Michele Thomson said: “This is so sad”.
That sentiment was shared in social media messages from various golfing bodies, including the St Andews-based R&A and Scottish Golf.
In a statement, the police said they had determined that Barquin Arozamena had died following an assault.
“This is a tragic and senseless loss of a talented young woman and an acclaimed student athlete,” said Iowa State’s president, Dr Wendy Wintersteen.
“We mourn with her family and friends in Spain, her team-mates here and all who knew her. On behalf of the entire Cyclone family, I extend our deep condolences to Celia’s family and her many friends and team-mates at Iowa State. We are deeply saddened.”
Barquin’s victory in the European Ladies’ Amateur in Slovakia had secured her an invitation to next year’s Women’s British Open at Woburn. In August, she advanced to Stage II of the LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.
She ended her Iowa State career (2015-18) with her fourth-straight NCAA Regional appearance and earned All-Big 12 Team honours for the third time (2015, 2016, 2018), one of only two players in college history to accomplish the feat.