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Spanish champion women hope to inspire like Seve

AFP
Spanish golfer Belen Mozo tees off during the final round of the LGPA International Crown at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, MD, July 27, 2014
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Spanish golfer Belen Mozo tees off during the final round of the LGPA International Crown at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, MD, July 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

Baltimore (AFP) - Having been inspired by legendary countryman Seve Ballesteros, Spain's LPGA stars hope their victory Sunday at the International Crown team matches sparks a new generation of Spanish women golfers.

Azahara Munoz, Beatriz Recari, Carlota Ciganda and Belen Mozo swept four singles matches to capture the title and global bragging rights for Spain in the eight-team showdown at Caves Valley.

"I don't think I can come up with words that come close to what it means," Recari said. "We feel the flag. Our blood boils when we hear the anthem and see the flag. We're just so stoked we did it."

Recari said the 20-something Spaniards, friends since junior days at ages 10 and 11, hope to boost Spanish women's golf the way Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Sergio Garcia have done on the men's side.

"We had a great lead in Spanish golf with Seve, Jose, Miguel and then Sergio so it was always men that were referenced," Recari said.

"I hope with what we did that more girls are going to watch and say, 'OK, I want to be there. I want to be with them and raising this trophy.' It's only going to help."

Ciganda went 3-0 in her first Solheim Cup last year while Recari was 3-1-1 in her debut as Europe routed the host US women 18-10 and Munoz, whose lone LPGA win came in the 2012 Sybase Match Play event, is 4-3-1 in two Solheim stints.

"Seve was unbelievable so I watched him a lot," Ciganda said.

"All the Spanish golfers, we love match play and we like to support each other so playing as a team is good for us."

The bonds built over years helped Spain overcome two disheartening four-ball losses Friday to the United States by winning every possible point in the last two days.

"Sometimes when you want it so bad it just doesn't go your way," Munoz said. "Every time we made a mistake it looked like the world was ending. You just can't play golf like that.

"We learned from it. It was a wake-up call for us. It worked out after that so I wouldn't change it."

Mozo, who sank the winning eight-foot birdie putt at 16 in a 3-and-2 victory over Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn that clinched the title, was inspired by the Friday setback.

"I woke up the next day and I was still pissed. I was very grumpy," Mozo said. "I was able to bring it back, to come more positive, to play my best game."

Mozo hopes this is the start of bigger things, including a place on next year's European Solheim Cup team.

"This is just one little step toward my dreams and who I want to become," she said. "I just think this is only the beginning. I'm young and I cannot wait to get up there with Europe and be with these girls. It's going to be a dream."

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