Azahara Muñoz is clearly going to be the main star at the Spanish Ladies Open, and for dual reasons: as the defending champion and because of her close links to Royal Guadalmina Golf Club, where she fine-tuned her game and progressed as a golfer – and is an honorary member.
What does it mean to defend the Spanish Open title at a course where you learned to play?
It means a lot. To defend a title is always a matter of pride, and if it is also at home then it is even more special.
What are your best memories of that era and this course?
At Guadalmina I always remember when we were at the academy. We had group classes on Saturdays, and had a great time. We would have classes then play putting competitions. Eat quickly and go out to play. We were on the course all day. I was very fortunate to have belonged to a club like Guadalmina since I was young. I would not be where I am now without them.
Does playing at home give you an advantage or does it entail added pressure because of all the support from local fans?
There is always added pressure playing at home. But at the same time a great advantage because I know everyone will be supporting me and that helps a lot. I will do the best I can for them.
What are the main keys to overcoming the challenge of Guadalmina’s South Course?
To play well at Guadalmina you have to be accurate from the tee, but especially with your irons. The greens are quite contoured and with pronounced ridges, and it’s essential to be in the right part of the green.
What holes would you highlight?
I would highlight the 11th hole. It’s a spectacular par-3 along the beach. Exacting. But there are many others. The fourth is a very good hole. Long and difficult. The eight is the same. The course is very good and you have to play it very well.
Even though it might be to your detriment, what advice would you give your rivals to help them succeed at Guadalmina?
I would suggest they remain patient. You can make birdies but the course can also catch you out if you lose focus. You have to really concentrate the whole time.