Azahara Muñoz, the winner of the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino in 2016 and 2017, who was second behind Anne Van Dam last year, says that she is trying not to obsess, but winning the title in Spain for a third time in four years would be a dream come true.
“I have high expectations and hopefully, on Sunday, I have done enough to win the Spanish Open,” she told reporters at Aloha Golf Club in Marbella on Wednesday.
“I really want the tournament to start, because I have always loved playing at home on the Costa del Sol.
“I arrive confident in what I am doing. The best part of this season has been my attitude, which is much calmer in the face of adversity. I am being more gracious to myself when things do not go well. I am going to take that with my next year. I won’t make any significant technical changes, just train and train, work and work,” added Muñoz, who became the first ever Spanish winner of this event when it was first played at Aloha Golf Club in 2016.
“Three years ago, I arrived here in what was my worst season at the time. I was off centre, hitting the ball badly and not finding any solutions. On Thursday of the tournament, my sister had a conversation with me which changed everything and lowered my tension. Now I am much calmer and I am aware of what I need to do.
“It’s a course that I know well, and that is an advantage. You have to be very precise, place the ball in the right place, especially on the greens, which have huge movement – and that may be the key to the tournament: course management and placing the ball in the best positions.”
However, with 14 Spanish players in the field, plus some of the best international talent from Europe, including the title holder, Anne Van Dam from the Netherlands, she added: “The competition is huge… there are players of a high level, several from the LPGA and then there is Anne Van Dam, who will be playing aggressively following her Solheim Cup debut.”
Muñoz shared the stage in the press conference with fellow Solheim Cup winner Suzann Pettersen, who retired immediately after holing the winning putt for Europe at Gleneagles in September.
The Norwegian golfer said that the gravitas of that unique moment has only sank in recently: “Everything happened very fast, so much so that at that moment I was not even aware that it was the winning putt, but it was only possible thanks to my team who won their points earlier.” Pettersen, who was recently reappointed as a vice-captain to Catriona Matthew for the next match in Toledo, Ohio, in 2021, added that she will continue to focus on her family but will never be far away from golf.
Although Pettersen will be travelling home on Thursday, the penultimate tournament of 2019 will be just getting started, with Muñoz, Van Dam and Christina Kim one of the groups to watch. They start from the 10th tee at 8.35am and the action gets under way 20 minutes earlier.