NAPLES, Fla. — Two-time LPGA Tour winner Carlota Ciganda climbed the leaderboard on Moving Day at the CME Group Tour Championship, carding a 9-under 63 that saw her make one bogey, eight birdies and an eagle at Tiburón Golf Club.
The Spaniard raced out of the gate on Saturday, rattling off three consecutive birdies in her first three holes before dropping a shot on the par-4 4th hole. She erased that mistake with a birdie on No. 6 and carded three straight pars before making the turn at 6-under. The 33-year-old kicked off her back nine with a birdie on No. 10, and after making two pars on 11 and 12, she picked up a pair of back-to-back birdies on holes 13 and 14.
Ciganda parred the 15th hole and grabbed a birdie on the par-3 16th hole to get to 10-under with two holes to play. The par-5 17th hole saw Ciganda record her second eagle of the week – she also made an eagle on the par-5 1st hole yesterday – and all she needed was a par on the last to post a 63 and tie her career-low 18-hole score on the LPGA Tour.
The 63 is Ciganda’s lowest round at the CME Group Tour Championship, and it’s her second time carding a 63 this season with the last time coming during the third round of the DIO Implant LA Open at Palos Verdes Golf Club. This week marks the first time since the Portland Classic in August that she has opened with three straight under-par rounds – Ciganda ultimately finished T3 that week – and the 63 is her 24th round in the 60s this season.
The Pamplona, Spain native was happy to finally see some red numbers on her scorecard on day three at Tiburón Golf Club and credited her putting as the reason for Saturday’s scintillating performance, one that vaulted her up the leaderboard on Moving Day from T44 to the top 15.
“I’ve been playing good all week. The first day I hit 15 greens, didn't mistake many putts. Yesterday was more of a grind, was a good 2-under. Today I just went out there and I was trying my best,” said Ciganda, who hit 14 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in the third round. “I had a good putting session this morning that I thought that was key. I thought I was close, closer than what I think.
“Usually I think golfers, we overthink and do too much instead of believing how good we are and believing all the hard work we do every day and the whole year. I just had a good putting session with some lines and a couple drills that I do. It was really good.”
This is her 11th appearance at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, and she has earned two top-five finishes at Tiburón Golf Club in her 10 prior showings, tying for second in 2014 and tying for fifth in 2018. This week marks Ciganda’s 21st start of the 2023 LPGA Tour season, and in her 20 previous tournaments, she has recorded four top-five results, including a tie for third at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, and one additional top-10 finish, tying for eighth at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give.
The highlight of Ciganda’s year, however, came in September at the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin in Andalucia, Spain. On Sunday during the Singles session, the Spaniard defeated Nelly Korda 2 and 1 with a birdie on the par-3 17th hole to earn the clinching point for the European Team who retained the Solheim Cup after a historic 14-14 tie with the Americans. It’s a moment that will go down in both Spanish golf and Solheim Cup history books, and of all of her achievements this year, it’s definitely the most significant for Ciganda.
But she’s still got one more round of golf to play before the season officially concludes, and now that she’s climbed the leaderboard with a Saturday 63, Ciganda has one more solid finish well within reach on Sunday at Tiburón Golf Club.
“It's been a very solid year, very consistent. Playing some great golf. Solheim was unbelievable, a week that I won't forget. Very, very nice,” said the eight-time European Solheim Cup Team member. “After that, I haven't been playing amazing. I'm just a little tired and running down on adrenaline. I wanted to play good this week to finish the year on the LPGA, and that's what I'm trying to do, just fight until the last hole.
“I hit 14 fairways today. I think that's key on this golf course to be in play. Yeah, hit as many greens as I can. My putter felt great, so hopefully I can feel the same tomorrow and have a low one again.”