A man who has been accused of murdering a female golf star had an urge “to rape and kill a woman”, investigators have claimed.

Ranked among America's top players, Celia Barquin Arozamena, 22, was found on the Coldwater Golf Links course in Iowa, where she regularly practiced.

The man accused of her murder, Collin Daniel Richards reportedly lived in a tent encampment nearby.

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The 22-year-old has been charged with stabbing Ms Barquin to death during a random attack while she was golfing by herself. Investigators said it took place in broad daylight.

Ms Barquin's body was found in a pond on the course near the ninth hole after fellow golfers noticed her abandoned bag and called the police.

She had several stab wounds to her upper torso, head and neck, according to the criminal complaint that was filed against Mr Richards, who was arrested within hours of her body being discovered.

He had injuries to his face and hand believed to be from when Ms Barquin had apparently tried to fight him off, investigators said.

Officers recovered a knife that Mr Richards had given to acquaintances, as well as bloody clothing from his belongings, police said.

An acquaintance of Mr Richards allegedly said he had in recent days that he had claimed that he had "an urge to rape and kill a woman".

A second told police that Mr Richards arrived at his home appearing "dishevelled and covered in blood, sand and water" before bathing and leaving.

Collin Daniel Richards makes his initial court appearance after being charged with the murder (AP)

Police commander Geoff Huff said homicides are rare in the city and it was "very troubling for something like this to happen in broad daylight."

Ms Barquin, a top golfer originally from Spain, was finishing her degree in civil engineering at Iowa State University.

She became the 2018 Big 12 champion and Iowa State University (ISU) Female Athlete of the Year and was hailed by the university as one of the most accomplished players in its history.

Ranked at 69 nationally by Golfweek, she was only the third ISU women's golfer to compete in the US Women's Open Championship.

She ended her university golfing career with a fourth-straight NCAA Regional appearance and earned All-Big 12 Team honours for the third time — only the second player in ISU history to do so.

Athletic director Jamie Pollard said: "We're all devastated and heartbroken."

Head women's golf coach Christie Martens said that Ms Barquin was "loved by all her teammates and friends" and was an "outstanding representative of our school."

"We will never forget her competitive drive to be the best and her passion for life," she added.

Professional golfer Sergio Garcia, one of Ms Barquin's favourite players, tweeted that he was heartbroken by the news, saying he'd had the pleasure of meeting Ms Barquin and calling her a "special person."

Agencies contributed to this report