Spaniard Ciganda will take on local favorite, Gaby Lopez, in opening round
Carlota Ciganda is delighted to be back in familiar territory for this week's Lorena Ochoa Match Play, even though she is the 'defending champion' at an LPGA Tour event where the format has been revamped from the stroke play of last year when she triumphed by two shots.
Spaniard Ciganda is well versed in the intricacies of the one-on-one format, having played a great deal of match-play golf as a junior growing up in Europe and more recently as a professional in team competition.
Add to that her comfort factor at Club de Golf Mexico, where she has been a runner-up and then the champion in her last two LPGA Tour starts, it should come as no surprise that she is licking her lips in anticipation of Thursday's opening Round-of-64 matches in the event hosted by Mexican golfing great Lorena Ochoa.
"I love playing match play," Ciganda told LPGA.com as she worked on her swing in bright morning sunshine at the Club de Golf Mexico practice range. "I played in so many match-play events when I was an amateur. We play a lot in Europe -- all the British amateurs, the European team events -- so I like the format. And this is a very nice course to play match play so it's going to be a fun week."
Asked about the difficulty of switching back to match play from the week-to-week diet of stroke play on the LPGA Tour, Ciganda replied: "For me, it's not hard because I played a lot of match play growing up. In match play, you are just playing against the player you have in front of you, and I like that because you can see what she is doing.
"When you are playing in a stroke-play event, it's more about just trying to get into the top 10 for the Sunday so you can have a chance (to win the tournament). I love match play. I am very comfortable with the format."
Two-time LPGA Tour winner Ciganda, who will take on local favorite Gaby Lopez in the opening round, tried to play down her comfort level at Club de Golf Mexico where she finished second in the 2015 Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational before winning the 2016 edition by two strokes.
"I just want try to play my game," said the Spaniard, who has twice played for Europe at the Solheim Cup (2013, 2015) and represented Spain on the victorious 2014 UL International Crown team. "I like the golf course, I have played really good here. I am just trying to play my game and see how good it is."
Match play returns to the LPGA Tour this week after a four-year absence and the Lorena Ochoa Match Play has attracted a strong field featuring 22 of the top-30 players in the Rolex Rankings.
World number one Lydia Ko leads the way, and will take on Mexico's Ana Menendez in the round of 64. Third-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn will launch her bid for a sixth LPGA Tour victory with a first-round matchup against American Amy Anderson.
This week's revamped event marks the first match-play tournament on the LPGA Tour’s schedule since the Sybase Match Play Championship in 2012.