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History has reserved for the first Solheim Cup held in Spain and Carlota Ciganda the best possible script ever dreamed of - a 14-point draw that is considered a victory for Europe – the winner of the previous edition retains the trophy – and a superb performance that places Carlota Ciganda as an undisputed reference of Spanish, European and world women’s golf.
Not in vain, what was at stake, apart from the triumph itself, was the emergence of a collective and an individual story that is intimately related. On the one hand, Europe was aiming for its third consecutive victory, a string of victories never before achieved by Europeans. On the other hand, Carlota Ciganda dreamed of successfully overcoming the supreme challenge of winning everything in Spain after winning all the titles in the most important amateur and professional tournaments held in our country.
Both aspirations will now go down in the annals of the history of professional women’s golf and in the personal history of Carlota Ciganda who, with 4 points, distinguished herself as the most productive player of this edition of the Solheim Cup 2023, which concluded with the general feeling of having fulfilled her duty.
A good organization; a massive public presence; a lively and healthy atmosphere in the stands; a game of equality and emotion are the solid foundations of a legacy that will extend with palpable activity over the coming years throughout Andalusia, throughout the length and breadth of Spain.
The multi-faceted and interesting facets involved in the celebration of the Solheim Cup 2023 more than lived up to expectations, but succumbed, as it should, to an exciting sporting development that has kept fans around the world on tenterhooks for three days of intense emotions.
With these premises and with twelve individual matches in play, a final day to remember began. The points where newsworthy events took place multiplied ad infinitum; the actions that little by little were acquiring the qualification of decisive were reproduced like spores; the alternatives on the scoreboard proliferated at every second.
Only the course of the holes was able to dictate real sentences. It happened in the first matches, when the United States scored their first points thanks to Megan Khang and Danielle Kang, well neutralized by good performances from Leona Maguire and Anna Nordqvist.
And it also happened in the intermediate matches, which ended in a draw in those featuring Europeans Georgia Hall and Georgia Dryburgh, in both cases with the feeling that they could have been won had it not been for some faulty putts in the decisive moments.
Hands were shaking, clubs were on fire, balls were slipping… the tension was palpable in an increasingly dense atmosphere in search of a solution to the enigma. The matches starring Sweden’s Madelene Sangstrom and France’s Celine Boutier ended up in the American box on the 15th and 17th holes, a lead minimised thanks to the success of an immense Caroline Hedwall who, in some inspired last holes, offered her point to Europe, celebrated with fury, arm in arm in a sign of recognition and joy.
On the edge of the precipice, with 12-13 in favour of the United States and with only three matches left in action, all eyes froze on the same point, on the clashes played by Maja Stark, Emily Pedersen and, of course, the irreducible Carlota Ciganda.
The Danish Pedersen, in the final match, could do little against the drive of the experienced Lexi Thompson, while the Swedish Stark successfully responded to the challenge of adding another point with decisive connotations on the European side, which needed in any case one more to tie the score at 14 and retain the title.
And there she was, as on so many other occasions, Carlota Ciganda, the player who, thanks to her hard work and talent, has had the opportunity to write in her own handwriting part of the personal and collective history of Spanish and European women’s golf.
The player from Navarre gave her all, she gave it all, she offered the best of herself to successfully respond to each of the affronts of Nelly Korda, number 2 in the World Ranking.
Nothing, however, stopped Carlota Ciganda, neither Korda’s best proposals nor the pressure that comes from knowing that Europe’s triumph is in your hands. The putt on the 16th hole and the tee shot on the 17th hole, which left the ball an inch from the flag, finally constituted the hatching of this collective story and this personal story that have united the destinies of the Solheim Cup and Carlota Ciganda to build the best story ever dreamed of.
The Navarrese, who has achieved everything in our country, including this Solheim Cup, is already thinking about her next goal “I’ve won everything here, but I’m missing a Major, I just need to win a Grand Slam tournament”, said Carlota Ciganda a few minutes after holing the decisive putt to tie, and therefore retain the Solheim Cup title that has ended at Finca Cortesín. With her victory over Nelly Korda, the Spaniard closed a dream week. “I’ll never forget it in my life,” she repeated.
With her clothes soaked in champagne and an undisguisable smile on her face on the 17th green after making that putt, Carlota Ciganda made an appearance at the Finca Cortesín Media Centre accompanied by the rest of her team-mates and the captain, Suzann Pettersen, who gave voice to the team’s thoughts: “It’s a dream come true”.
The main protagonist of the appearance was, of course, the player from Navarre, who remembered all those who surround her on a daily basis, “all those people who are behind the team and who don’t appear here. I remembered the people I love, the people who help me, like my family and my coach, the people who help me to be who I am today. I thank them for everything they do for me,” she said emotionally.
Talking about how the week has gone, Carlota stressed the importance of having got up “from Friday morning, which was very hard. I’m very happy because we’ve come out of a very complicated situation together. We are all very happy. My team-mates like Spain very much, everything has been perfect, the camp, the hotel, the weather ….. It’s a week that neither my team-mates nor I will ever forget,” she added.
“I don’t really remember what happened after the putt on the 17th”.
One of the most talked about topics has been her euphoric reaction after the putt on the 17th. “I don’t remember much or what I did, I think I made the putt and hugged Álvaro, my caddie. It was very close and, honestly, I don’t remember very well what happened in those moments, I have flashes,” he confessed.
In addition, Carlota recalled that it “motivates her more” to play in teams than on her own. “We are used to playing individually and doing it with these team-mates is more motivating. And to do it in Spain, even more. I wanted to enjoy every moment, the first hole, everything… I won’t be able to forget everything that has happened this week,” said the Spaniard, who also acknowledged that the Norwegian captain is her idol.
It was Suzann Pettersen who told her that her point was the decisive one. “She told me that we had tied and that my point was enough. I was very excited that it was my game, but the effort is for the whole team,” concluded the great golfer from Ulzama.