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Spanish Golfer’s murderer sentenced to life imprisonment

American citizen Colin Richards has pleaded guilty to the murder of the Spanish golfer Celia Barquin, and has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Having previously been found innocent, 22 year old Richards has since confessed to the murder according to prosecutor Jessica Reynolds of Story County, Iowa, and on August 23rd he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“My heart is with Celia’s family today with the hope that this result will provide them with a certain level of comfort,” said prosecutor Reynolds in a statement, “this tragic crime is something that has touched and saddened us all.”

Barquín’s body was found on the golf course at Coldwater Links, in Amed (State of Iowa) where she studied Civil Engineering.

The young Cantabrian was considered one of the greatest talents in the world of golf. Born in Torrelavega, she was the reigning European champion, after winning the Women’s Individual Championship 2018.

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Garcia secures Valderrama hat trick

Sergio Garcia successfully wrapped up his third Andalucía Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation title with a four-shot victory, after weather delays took the tournament into a fifth day.

The 2017 Masters Tournament winner had been in possession of a three-shot lead when stormy conditions forced play to be suspended on Sunday night after a series of weather delays on the opening three days at Real Club Valderrama had already seen the tournament reduced to 54 holes.

The defending champion – who also won this event in 2011 – powered to victory when play resumed on Monday, carding three birdies and a single bogey in his last 11 holes to finish the week on 12 under par at a course he counts as one of his favourites.

Irishman Shane Lowry recorded his best finish of the season, taking second place at eight under par after a final round 66.

The 31 year old – whose last victory came at the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – had given Garcia a scare when he closed the gap to a single shot courtesy of three birdies in a row at the start of the back nine, but a double bogey at the short 15th hole halted his challenge.

Finland’s Mikko Korhonen finished two shots further back at six under par, one ahead of England’s Ashley Chesters. Lee Westwood and Maximillian Kieffer of Germany were then at four under par, alongside another local favourite, seven-time European Tour winner Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño, who secured his European Tour card for 2019 with his share of fifth place. 

Scotland’s Richie Ramsay also kept his card after finishing in a share of 11th on two under par to jump up to 115th on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, with England’s David Horsey clinching the final place.

Player quotes

Sergio Garcia: “To be able to win three times here in Valderrama is a dream come true. It’s so difficult, this golf course is so challenging. For me to be able to shoot three rounds under par with the positions we played all week, all the rain we had, and all the stop and going means a lot. I’m very proud of that.

“I knew the guys would attack, they would be going after me. This is the kind of golf course that if you’re a little bit off you can struggle but if your game is on it gives you a lot of birdie opportunities. Obviously Shane was playing well, he got close to me, then unfortunately he doubled 15 and then I dug up an extra gap with my birdie on 14 and opened it to four.

“Becoming a father changes your life for better and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it.  I am very happy to have Angela and Azalea by my side; it was nice to be able to win it for both of them.”

Shane Lowry: “I was going well yesterday but I came back out this morning on fire as well. Birdied ten, 11 and 12, flying, lipped out on 13 and 14 and then hit the worst shot I’ve hit all year on 15. Made double there, but the positive is that it’s probably the only bad shot I hit in that round.

“A 66 around here and being in contention is pretty good. I’m just disappointed I didn’t put a bit of pressure on Sergio. I had it to within one at one stage and then I made double and he made birdie. That was it. But it’s my best week of the year, serious positives to take from it, and I’ve got a great four weeks coming up now to finish the season.”

Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño: “I’m really, really happy and also quite proud of what I’ve done this week; when I needed to deliver I did, so I’m excited.

“If I had to choose a tournament to keep my card it’s probably this one. It doesn’t particularly suit my game, but it’s a course I know very well, and also I knew the scoring would not be extremely low.

“I’m very excited to be back with full status on the European Tour; it’s always been my home tour and will always be. I’ve been away for a few years trying the American dream, unfortunately it didn’t happen for me, but it’s good to be back. I believe I still have a few years ahead to win tournaments, and hopefully 2019 will be one of them.”

Richie Ramsay: “I didn’t sleep the best but I think I came out and proved a lot to myself, arguably under the most pressure I’ve ever felt coming down the stretch, but it’s a course I love which made it far easier to go out there and play.

“I had some good looks at some great putts on 16 and 17 and then I rolled in a nice little tester at the end from about three feet. A three footer under normal circumstances is very easy, but not when your job is on the line.”

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Garcia stays in control heading into Monday at Valderrama

Round three update

Sergio Garcia remains on course for a third title at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation, but will now have to wait until Monday to complete his third and final round after play was suspended due to thunderstorms and heavy rain.

The defending champion – who also won the event in 2011 – is three strokes clear of nearest challenger Lee Westwood at Real Club Valderrama and will have 11 holes remaining when play restarts at 9.10 am.

Home favourite Garcia came into the third round at 10 under par and four shots clear, and after a number of weather delays over the first three days meant that the decision had been taken to reduce the event to 54 holes.

Following another one hour delay on Sunday morning, the 2017 Masters Tournament winner extended his lead to five strokes when he followed up three opening pars with his first birdie of the day at the fourth, courtesy of a brilliant 20-foot putt.

But after Garcia missed his close-range par putt at the fifth, 23-time European Tour winner Westwood followed up three straight birdies from the second with another gain at the eighth to jump to seven under par and reduce the lead to three shots, before play was suspended at 1.49 pm.

Seven-time European Tour winner Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño began the week in 125th place in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, and produced opening rounds of 70 and 68 to give himself a good chance of retaining his European Tour card. He is currently in a share of third place at six under par alongside Ireland’s Shane Lowry.

Finland’s Mikko Korhonen is one shot further back on five under par, with six players then at four under par. That group includes Ireland’s Gavin Moynihan, who got to six under par for the day through 15 holes before play was suspended, with a round that included an eagle, five birdies and just one dropped shot.

Scot Marc Warren and Englishman Matthew Nixon, who both began the week outside the top 116 mark required to retain their playing privileges, are also amongst the group on four under par, while another Scotsman in David Drysdale and Australian Jason Norris are one shot further back at three under par.

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Open De España to return to the European Tour

The Open de España, one of the oldest and most celebrated tournaments in Continental Europe, will return to the European Tour in April.

After its absence from the schedule in 2017, the 91st playing of the Open de España will take place at the Centro Nacional de Golf in Madrid – the home of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation – from April 12-15; the €1.5 million tournament fulfilling a pledge that European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley made during a visit to Spain’s capital last year when he promised the event would return to the European Tour in 2018.

Pelley said: “I am delighted to announce the return of the Open de España to our schedule. The roll call of champions reads like a Who’s Who of the game itself and we look forward very much to seeing who will add their name to that illustrious list in a couple of months’ time.

“Our game thrives on prestigious national championships such as the Open de España and we thank everyone at the Royal Spanish Golf Federation and the Madrid Golf Federation for helping us make this happen.”

First contested played in 1912, the Open de España was also the first tournament played in the European Tour’s inaugural season in 1972, with home favourite Antonio Garrido crowned as champion. Several Spanish greats followed onto the Roll of Honour including Seve Ballesteros with three victories (1981 El Prat, 1985 Vallromanes, 1995 Club de Campo Villa de Madrid), Sergio García (2002 El Cortijo), Álvaro Quirós (2010 RCG Sevilla) and Miguel Ángel Jiménez (2014 PGA de Catalunya).

Also victorious in the Championship have been Major Champions Arnold Palmer (1975 La Manga Club), Bernhard Langer (1984 and 1989 Campo de Golf Parador El Saler), Sir Nick Faldo (1987 RC Las Brisas), Padraig Harrington (1996 Club de Campo Villa de Madrid) and Charl Schwartzel (2007 Centro Nacional de Golf), alongside European Number Ones Colin Montgomerie (1994 Club de Campo Villa de Madrid) and Robert Karlsson (2001 Campo de Golf Parador El Saler).

Schwartzel’s victory, in 2007, came at the Centro Nacional de Golf itself and was the second of his current 11 victories on the European Tour, four years before he won the Masters Tournament at Augusta National.

Gonzaga Escauriaza, President of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, said: “The Open de España is back on the European Tour International Schedule, which is great news for Spanish golf and we are doubly delighted to be welcoming it back to our home at the Centro Nacional de Golf.

“Our country has always held a relevant position in Europe, not only because of the outstanding performances of the Spanish golfers, both professionals and amateurs, but also for being one of the main tourist destinations. Therefore, Spain deserves its Open and I am convinced that our professionals will support the event with their presence. I especially would like to thank Keith Pelley and the European Tour, the Madrid Golf Federation, and all who have contributed to make it happen.”

Ignacio Guerras, president of the Madrid Golf Federation, said: “The Open de España is set to return to its origins. In total, 43 of its 91 editions will have taken place in Madrid, one of the great cities in Europe, and also host to the first 17 editions of the tournament. Throughout history, Madrilenian golf courses have attracted the greats of the game including Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, José María Olazábal, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Davis Love III and Fred Couples.”

Aside from the 2007 Open de España, the Centro Nacional de Golf has also played host to the 2009 Madrid Masters on the European Tour, won by Englishman Ross McGowan; and the 2006 Challenge de España on the European Challenge Tour, won by Frenchman Adrien Mörk who pipped to the title, amongst others, a young German golfer by the name of Martin Kaymer.

With the Open de España now confirmed, the number of Race to Dubai counting tournaments in 2018 still stands at 47 after the news that the Philippines Golf Championship, scheduled for March 15-18, will not now take place this year.

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