‘Is this how you wanted it? It’s all yours’: How Carlota Ciganda became legendary
You couldn’t write this any better. It’d be a helluva story. Legendary, maybe. They put the Solheim Cup in Carlota Ciganda’s native country of Spain for the first time this year. And wouldn’t it be something if she made the European squad?
But let’s go bigger!
Oh, but what if she somehow won a match at Finca Cortesin! Maybe she’d sit the first session. That’s OK. But then pair up with, let’s say, Linn Grant, and give her team a much-needed point.
And Ciganda wins both of her matches on the second day! She leads the Euros out of the tunnel, teams with Emily Pedersen in the morning, prevails, then her and Grant are last off the tee in the afternoon, and they win again.
Good. But bigger!
The Euros and the Americans are tied entering Sunday. And Ciganda and mega-star Nelly Korda are the second-to-last group off. And Ciganda could win the whole frickin’ thing!
But, but, but … things would get rocky. Ciganda wins, like, the 2nd hole and the 3rd and the 8th to go 3-up, but then Korda storms back, winning, like, the 9th, 10th and 15th to tie it up. That 15th would be wild. We would hear Golf Channel announcer Kay Cockerill say something about Carlota hitting “a cold shank” into the shrubbery. And she double-bogeys.
On 16, Suzann Pettersen finds Ciganda. Pettersen has a fun story. She won the Solheim Cup four years ago with a dagger — then retired. A walk-off. She’s this year’s captain, though. By now on Sunday, other matches are ending. The math is saying Ciganda could clinch this. Pettersen whispers to Ciganda:
“Is this how you wanted it? It’s all yours.”
Korda then hits to five feet on 16. But Ciganda wedges one to three. She jogs up the fairway. She high-fives her caddie, Alvaro Alonso. She lifts her arms to the crowd. On the green, Korda misses. Ciganda makes. She goes 1-up. More fist-pumping.
It’s down to two matches now. The score is 13-all. The Europeans, having won the previous Cup, can keep it if they just tie. (Yeah, that’s a little weird, but let’s continue.) The hole, the 17th, is a 145-yard, par-3. Ciganda takes a 7-iron. She hits.
It drops to a yard.
Korda hits to the left of the green. On the walk down, the crowd chants her name, to the tune of the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army: “Car-lo-ta Ci-gan-da, Car-lo-ta Ci-gan-da.” Try it. It’s fun. They eventually quiet. Korda chips on. Her ball grazes the cup. Korda putts. Ciganda is off to the side, watching. Korda makes. She has her par. But Ciganda’s birdie putt seals it.
She drops her putter. She thrusts to the crowd. She hugs Alonso. Her teammates come in. They hug. They bounce. They celebrate on the green. Forget that there was still that match behind them. It was over!
“And it’s a magical moment for Carlota Ciganda,” announcer Tom Abbott would say on the Golf Channel broadcast.
And then Golf Channel on-course analyst Karen Stupples finds Pettersen amid the party afterward that includes … the Spanish monarchy and former hooper Pau Gasol.
No way, right?
“I mean, could we have staged it any better for Carlota?” Pettersen says. “In Spain. She plays with so much heart. I walked down 16 with her and I said: ‘Is this how you wanted it? It’s all yours.’ And I couldn’t be more proud. I mean, for Carlota, the match to bring it home, unbelievable. I thought we were a half-point short a half-hour before Carlota finished 15. I had to kind of regroup. I started counting again, and of course, comes down to one match. I think it’s just meant to be.
“Came down to Carlota.”
Stupples then finds the hero.
What the hell?
“I mean, it’s amazing,” Ciganda would say. “It’s been an amazing week. I love the support of all my family, friends; I have a lot of people here. To play in Spain is always special. The Solheim Cup, it’s just been an unbelievable week. I love the captain; I love Suzanne. I just really wanted to play good for her. Very happy to win the four points.”
“I think the key was when Suzanne came to me on 16. I was missing having some of the Europeans there. She came to me, I saw her and she just told me, you are made for this, just go enjoy, play good for your nation and just finish it up. So I hit two amazing shots. Nelly, what am I going to say — she’s an amazing player. I mean, world No. 1 many times. So she played really good, and I’m just very happy that I could beat her to get the point for Europe.”
Could there … be more?
Ciganda’s been a good pro. A member of five previous Solheim teams. Two LPGA wins, both in 2016. Seven on the Ladies European Tour. No majors. But maybe this springboards the 33-year-old. On Golf Channel, analysts Judy Rankin and Juli Inkster wonder.
“I do know she is the type of personality, and I think you’ve seen it as she played and as the crowd welcomed her and then as she won,” Rankins says, “she’s the kind of personality that can really love it, really enjoy it. I’ve said it before, she’s had so many chances to win in women’s golf and hasn’t taken advantage often enough. This might be the game-changer. She may be just a consistent winner from now on.”
“She’s always super respectful of everybody she plays with. I mean everybody loves her,” Inkster says. “Her game, I’m still flabbergasted that she hasn’t won more because she’s got all the shots. But I really do think if you give her, to win the Solheim Cup on her home turf or major win, she would take this. …
“This means so much to her, to win on her home soil and to go 4-0 and to win — you can’t write it better than that.”