Little, or almost nothing, had Carlota Ciganda (Pamplona, 33 years old) pending to be demonstrated. In a sport of so many ups and downs like golf, the best Spanish in history has already been established in the elite for 12 years. Despite this, 2023 was her crowning year, in which she became a national and international star thanks, above all, to a historic performance in the Solheim Cup. Carlota won all four matches she played at Finca Cortesín (Casares, Málaga). in the tournament that pits the best Europeans against the Americans. The Navarrese appeared with Europe losing 4-0, and was fundamental in the awakening of her team, to whom she gave the final point on Sunday. At home, she to win the fourth Solheim of her life (the third in a row) and with an outcome typical of a Hollywood blockbuster. Additionally, she captured the first major of her career with a third-place finish at the PGA Championship after a tremendous Sunday, and captured her 10th title as a professional at the Aramco Team Series in Florida. Ciganda, who will receive the AS Sports Award on December 18, talks about a magical year for her.
Question: You receive an award in Spain, where this year you will have noticed an increase in popularity thanks to Solheim.
Answer: I am very happy that they recognize me here, in my country. The truth is, yes, very happy to receive this type of awards, looking forward to the gala and enjoying it.
What is your assessment of this season now that it has ended?
The year has been good, I think it has been a positive year, I think I have played very good golf, very solid, very consistent, and I am happy with it. Happy also with Solheim. Yes, I would have liked to win a tournament, but well, it has been a season in which I have had a lot of consistency and I have been very solid in each tournament.
Do you give yourself a note at the end of the year? Which one would be given?
I would give myself an 8, or an 8.5. I missed that victory, because I would have liked to win in the LPGA, but otherwise, in general, good. Happy. Yes, I do think about it and I do think a little about how I played, what I can improve, how I can do things better. But the truth is I’m so tired right now (he had just finished the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open in Spain, his last tournament) I don’t have the strength, I don’t think I can think much, a few days, a few weeks need to pass and then do a little review, yes, think about how the year has gone, what needs to be improved and now prepare for 2024.
Talk about tiredness. How exhausted do you end up after such a demanding schedule?
In the end we started in January and we didn’t finish until November, which means 10, 11 very intense months, with a lot of travel, many time changes, many planes. It’s a life in which you don’t stop and it’s not easy to be well every week.
What homework do you set for the preseason?
I would like to continue improving a little bit of everything. Hit some more greens, hit some more fairways, make more putts… You can always try to improve everything.
“I give my year an 8 or an 8.5; I missed winning on the LPGA”
After your role in Solheim, did you notice that there was a before and after thanks to that tournament?
Yes, it was a very nice week. It was incredible, although I still feel the same. But it is true that I have had a lot of recognition. Many people have written to me, many TV shows, interviews… So yes, it has been important. And I’m glad that it has been a positive influence, hopefully thanks to that more girls and more people play golf.
Now that you see it in perspective, do you remember any specific moment from those days?
That Chema was there (Olazabal) Both Thursday and Friday made me very excited. Pau Gasol too, I think that him being there was very important. The King was also there on Sunday, something very special. So, yes, it was in Spain and it was something so big… It was very exciting and very beautiful.
Do you feel that your performance at Solheim is the history of this sport? What do you think when what he did will probably be remembered in 40 years?
I hope it is like that. The truth is that for me it was special that it was in Spain, that was the most of all. But hey, I don’t know how people will remember it. I think that, in the end, being Spanish and playing it at home, it will be remembered.
Next year comes loaded with exciting goals: another Solheim, the Olympic Games, the five majors…
I would like to play well in the big ones, win one of them. I also love Solheim and I want to be on the team, to win it again with Europe. And the same with the Olympic Games, it is a week that I love, I play for Spain. So I hope I can be fighting for a medal.
“I would say it has been one of the best years I have ever had”
This year, at the PGA, he had his first major close (was third). Do you feel that the big one can arrive in 2024?
Yes, yes, why not? In the end I have been up for many years, I have been third in majors the last two years. So, I think there are options. You have to play well, but I think you can.
What is your secret to being in the elite since 2012 and without major downturns?
Few secrets, really. A lot of work and more work. Keep working, keep believing and put in many hours.
At the Spanish Open you could see several Spanish amateurs, such as Andrea Revuelta or Cayetana Fernández, with a great future ahead of them. And they all admire you. Do you feel like the beacon of this generation is so bright?
Well, yes, I am one of those who has been doing this for the longest time, along with Azahara. (Muñoz), and we are two players who have been in the LPGA for many years, so I can be a bit of a reference for the girls who come from behind. So, I don’t know, people look at it however they see it. But I do feel that they can set their sights and that it may be their goal to be on the LPGA one day.
In 2023 he had an unpleasant chapter with his disqualification from a major (the Evian Championship) due to slow play, and there was a lot of talk about it. Did anything change in your game as a result?
Yes, we have tried to pay attention to the clock, play a little faster. But we continue to do the rest in the same way.
“Solheim week was very nice, incredible”
He didn’t break down after that. Do you think she is at the strongest moment, psychologically speaking, of her career?
Yes, I have that experience, which I believe does help you after all these years. That is something important and I think it helps me.
Do you pay much attention to statistics? Because this year there are several who speak very highly of their work.
Yes I look at it. I would say it is one of the best years I have ever had. Very solid. I have placed 10th in the ‘scoring average’ on the LPGA (only nine players on the US circuit average a round lower than her), with which she is happy. And really very good, yes.
Every time she plays on the Ladies European Tour she is one of the main attractions, like in the Spanish Open. What do you think of the possible merger between LET and LPGA?
The truth is that I don’t know, I don’t know what is best. I think that if they come together it would be good for the LET because, in the end, the LPGA has a lot of power and is a global circuit. So, well, the people who are up there should value it and see what is best for the sport.
The last. What do you ask of 2024?
Good health, may everything go very well. Happy holidays to everyone and nothing, let’s see if I win something big this year.
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