As any tour golfer knows, there is nothing better than sleeping in your own bed, so it’s no surprise that Spain’s Olympic golfer Azahara Muñoz is relishing the chance to play this week in her own back yard.
For her, the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino at Aloha Golf Club in Marbella represents the perfect opportunity to spend time with family and friends near her childhood home of San Pedro del Alcantara, while her husband, Tim, looks after their new mini golden doodle puppy back at their house in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
She’ll be enjoying home comforts, but also working hard to become the first Spanish winner of the title. She said: “It would mean everything. I don’t think there is anything better than winning your home Open. I have high expectations. It’s been not the best year but my coach is here, we’ve been working hard, so I’m hitting the ball better and I’m going to give it my all.”
Although she has only played at Aloha Golf Club a few times, in a junior tournament 18 years ago and two practise rounds before the Olympic Games, she added: “It’s amazing to play at home. I’ve only done it once before when it was at Los Flamingos, but it wasn’t quite home. This one really feels like home. I get to sleep only 10 minutes away from here and I’ve never done that. I’m pretty excited because I think it’s going to be great to play in front of my family and friends.
“Last time I guess I took it the wrong way, like I was thinking too much about what people were thinking. This week, for some reason, I feel totally different. Obviously I’m going to be nervous but I think it’s good. I’m going to have everybody supporting me so instead of getting nervous about it, I’m going to take it like never going to give up and I’m going to play well for them.”
The 29-year-old has come a long way since teeing up in the tournament at Los Flamingos six years ago. Her career has gone from strength to strength with two victories as part of The European Solheim Cup team in 2011 and 2013 and a third appearance in 2015, as well as two individual LET titles at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France in 2013 and 2014, following on from her first win on her professional debut at the 2009 Madrid Ladies Masters.
On the LPGA, she won her first individual victory in the 2012 Sybase Match play Championship and the 2014 International Crown as part of the Spanish team. After recovering from hand surgery, her 2016 season so far has included three top 10 finishes with T6th at the LPGA Volvik Championship, 8th at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give and T9th at the Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I.
Last month, she represented Spain with Carlota Ciganda in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and tied for 21st place. Ciganda was unable to compete this week due to her brother’s wedding on Saturday, but she sent her best wishes to everyone at the tournament.
The Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino takes place at Aloha Golf Club from Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th September and offers a prize fund of €300,000. The event is free for all to attend.