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Homeless man charged in stabbing death of champion golfer Celia Barquín Arozamena in Iowa

Spanish golfer Celia Barquín Arozamena's body was found on the golf course. Credit: European Golf Association

A homeless man attacked and killed a top amateur golfer from Spain who was playing golf near her university campus in Iowa - leaving her body in a pond on a course, police have said.

Collin Daniel Richards, 22, has been charged with first-degree murder over the death of Celia Barquin Arozamena, a student at Iowa State University.

Ms Barquin was found on Monday morning in a pond at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, about 30 miles north of Des Moines.

Police were called to the golf course at around 10:20am to investigate a possible missing female after golfers found a golf bag with no one nearby.

Collin Daniel Richards has been charged with murder. Credit: AP

Officers found Ms Barquin’s body some distance from the bag, with several stab wounds to her upper torso, head and neck, according to the criminal complaint filed against Richards.

A police dog tracked Ms Barquin’s scent to a temporary camp along a creek near the golf course, where Richards had been living in a tent, the complaint said.

Officers found Richards with several fresh scratches on his face consistent with fighting, and a deep laceration in his left hand which he tried to conceal, it said.

An acquaintance of Richards told investigators the suspect had said in recent days that he had "an urge to rape and kill a woman" while they were walking on a trail near the course, the complaint said.

A second acquaintance told police, Richards arrived at his home on Monday appearing "dishevelled and covered in blood, sand and water".

He bathed and left with his clothes in a backpack.

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Investigators later recovered two pairs of shorts with blood stains and a knife that Richards allegedly gave to two other people after the slaying, the complaint said.

Those two individuals were driving Richards out of town after the killing, but he asked them to drop him off near the camp so he could get his tent and that’s when officers arrested him, it said.

Ms Barquin was the 2018 Big 12 champion and Iowa State Female Athlete of the Year.

Barquín's victory in the European Ladies' Amateur in Slovakia had secured her an invitation to next year's Women's British Open at Woburn.

The university said the golfer from Puente San Miguel, Spain, was finishing her civil engineering degree.

She was one of the most accomplished players in Cyclone golf history, the university said.

In April, she became the second women’s golfer at Iowa State to earn medallist honours at a conference tournament when claiming the 2018 Big 12 Championship. She did it with a three-shot victory.

The European Golf Association said they are "deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss of their friend and recent European Ladies' Amateur Chapion, Celia Barquín Arozamena."

The EGA added: "Celia was a delightful young lady who inspired all who met her with her enthusiasm for golf and life."