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Ana Peláez, already a star thanks to her desire to win

Pelaéz after the final  round of the Open de España at  Guadalmina.
Pelaéz after the final round of the Open de España at Guadalmina. / SUR
  • The 22-year-old became the best amateur player of all time on Sunday at the Open de España, beating the record held by Olympic golfer Carlota Ciganda

Ana Peláez talks about her successes so naturally and modestly that she seems used to rewriting history every day. The 22-year-old is training physically and psychologically to be the best and so far she is not doing badly. Don't be fooled by her youth or lack of fame on the professional circuit, because at the Andalucía Costa del Golf Open de España at Guadalmina (Marbella) last week, she was out to win the title - even though she was making her debut and taking part as a guest player, after winning the fourth trial for the Santander Golf Tour this year, in Madrid. "My aim is always to win, even though I know it's difficult and it's a world I don't know," she admits.

And no, she didn't go home with the title, she came third, but not only was it not a defeat, it was the biggest victory in her short career. The golfer from Malaga made history by becoming the best Spanish amateur player in this Open. Since 2007, that record had been held by none other than Carlota Ciganda, who finished eighth. She was just 17 at the time.

"They told me about Carlota in an interview at the end of the third day, and I didn't know that before. I was seventh then, and they said maybe I could match or even do better than her. That gave me extra motivation," she says. "On the fourth day I already knew I had made history, and I took it as a personal victory." On this occasion the winner was Emily Pedersen, with Nuria Iturrioz second.

Ana Peláez will never forget that experience, because not only was it the first time she came face to face with her role model, but she even did better than her. That is, of course, the famous Azahara Muñoz, who is also from Malaga, who came sixth. "I met her once before, at a tournament I was invited to play as an amateur, but that was five years ago. This was the first time I had played with her in a professional tournament and being there and doing better than she did was a dream," she says. They didn't have time to talk much although they did manage a short chat. "We both studied in the USA," says Ana, who graduated in Finance and Supply Chains and also has a higher degree in Data Analysis from the University of South Carolina.

Pressure

This promising young player says a crucial factor in this tournament was her ability to overcome a bad start and turn her initial nerves into motivation. "I was more nervous than I had ever been before, because it's not every day that an amateur plays with the best, but then I tried not to do anything different to normal. It was very exciting to think it was on TV and people were even watching me in the United States," she says. She works every day on keeping herself calm. "In training I try to imagine every situation that might happen. It's a way of putting myself under pressure. I think that has helped me to deal with the pressure in reality and made it easier to carry out certain strokes or strategies."

With no time for rests, she was about to set off for Valencia to play in the Campeonato de España for professionals, again as a guest. "I'm going out there to win, hopefully I'll have another victory as a professional," she says. It is a fitting end to a year which has been as unusual as it has been brilliant for her, currently 77th on the world amateur ranking (not yet updated following her bronze). Next summer she plans to work towards qualifying for the world professional tour (LPGA). In the long term, though, she has the Olympics in mind. "That really would be a dream come true," she says.