Marbella will become the world epicentre for women's golf in the coming days as the Real Club de Golf de Guadalmina plays host to the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open until Sunday - weather permitting.
This is the last event of the year on the Ladies European Tour (LET), which this year goes by the name Race to Costa del Sol thanks to partnerships forged by the Andalusian Ministry of Tourism, Turismo Costa del Sol, Acosol and the Benahavís and Marbella town halls - representatives of which all participated in the virtual presentation of the tournament on Monday.
The president of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, Gonzaga Escauriaza, said in the presentation that the holding of the tournament "comes at a perfect time to put Spain in the forefront as a golf destination", as well as highlighting that this sport "can be a driving force behind the recovery that the country needs so much".
One of the institutions dedicated to promoting golf, and specifically women's golf in the country, is Turismo Costa del Sol. Its president, Francisco Salado, took part in the press conference, pointing out that this event is "an opportunity not only to show off our magnificent offering, but also the extraordinary capability of the Costa del Golf to host major international events".
Rehearsal for the Solheim Cup
Mayor of Marbella Ángeles Muñoz also highlighted the importance of the event for the economic recovery of Marbella and the Costa del Sol after the Covid-19 pandemic. "It's essential that we continue to invest in a sector that not only creates jobs, but also boosts the local economy."
This is especially the case when considering the impact the 2023 Solheim Cup will have on the area. "These competitions are an excellent boost for our hotel, leisure and gastronomy sectors," Muñoz said.
Nuria Rodríguez, the regional government's delegate for Tourism, added that the Spanish Open "will be a demonstration of Andalucía's ability to organise big events, especially with the Solheim Cup on the horizon in 2023".
A fascinating battle
The amount of promotion that this year's Open de España has received means that the prize fund for the winner will be double that of last year.
When the action got under way on Thursday morning, after a night of heavy rain, all eyes were on local player Azahara Muñoz.
The San Pedro-born golfer won the tournament the last time it took place at Guadalmina, a course Muñoz describes as "home". She will be the big favourite to regain the crown but will face stiff opposition from Dane Emily Kristine Pedersen, who has won three tournaments on the tour this season.
Later on Thursday, play was stopped for the day due to the unsettled weather but round one was able to continue on Friday.