Just a fortnight on from playing her part in Europe’s Solheim Cup victory at Gleneagles, Carlota Ciganda claimed the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open at Terramar Golf Club in Sitges, Spain, on Sunday, adding another unforgettable moment to her remarkable career.
It was the 2012 rookie of the year and order of merit winner’s first Ladies European Tour win on home soil and she said: “I’m very happy to win in Spain, with all the people here. My family is here and playing in Spain is always very special. It was a tough day and to be honest, it was very windy, with some crazy gusts on the course. I played pretty solid and tried to make the fairways, hit the greens and make a few putts. I played the par fives pretty good but I knew people were going to make mistakes, because it was playing quite tough.
“Towards the end, I saw that Esther was six or seven-under, but I wanted to get to ten: that was my aim for the day. I thought if I could get to ten I would be fine, but it was tough to get those birdies on the last few holes. The wind was quite strong, so I was happy to make those pars and win the tournament.”
It was her first individual tournament victory in three years, since the 2016 CitiBanamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational and capped a brilliant season, following on from eight top ten finishes on the LPGA Tour, including a tie for second in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in March.
Ciganda had the chance to win in Sitges in similar circumstances two years ago, with a short par putt on 18, but the ball lipped out forcing a play-off, which she lost to Florentyna Parker. She admitted that the memory returned as she faced a similar par putt to win from around five feet on the 18th hole and said: “I just said keep your head still and make this putt and win the tournament. I don’t want to go through another play-off because anything can happen and the putt went in, so I’m very, very happy.”
The tournament may be sponsored by a beer company, but after being soaked in water by fellow golfers, Ciganda delighted in spraying her jubilant home fans in champagne. Suzann Pettersen, Ciganda’s Solheim Cup teammate at Gleneagles tweeted soon afterwards: “When will this party stop? So happy for you my friend.”
The 29-year-old from Pamplona started the final round two strokes behind Laura Fuenfstueck, but in some ways benefited from Fuenfstueck’s misfortune. The 24-year-old from Germany, whom had never previously been in contention, endured an unnerving start when she double bogeyed the first two holes. Although she birdied the third and regained a share of the lead when Ciganda bogeyed the fourth, she ran out of luck with a bogey on the fifth hole. Another birdie followed at the seventh, but it was her last of the day. She doubled the 10th and came home in 40 for a final round of 79, which tied for fourth place with Christine Wolf and Ursula Wikstrom.
Ciganda birdied the sixth and seventh holes and took a two-stroke advantage through the turn before young German Esther Henseleit went on a birdie rampage. Two-over through six, she birdied five of the next seven holes, but ended with five consecutive pars in a 68. Ciganda bogeyed the 11th, but immediately bounced back with a birdie on the 12th. She bogeyed the 13th but no-one could catch her.
“It was a rough start but I came back really strong,” said Henseleit, who moved further ahead on the LET order of merit and rookie of the year rankings. “In the end, it wasn’t enough, but I played well. I had my chances on the last few holes but I wasn’t able to make them.”
Sanna Nuutinen, playing in the last group, shot 73 to finish third on three-under. Whitney Hillier, who made global headlines with her hole-in-one on Friday, finished in solo seventh place, with Aditi Ashok in eighth, Marianne Skarpnord in ninth and five further players tied for tenth.
The next LET tournament is the Hero Women’s Indian Open, which gets under way on Thursday at DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurugram. In the meantime, Ciganda said that she would enjoy a party with her extended family in Spain.