Carlota Ciganda, facing the challenge to win it all in Spain

The golfer from Navarre, the only Spanish representative in the European team, does not shy away from her experience in the most important team competition in women’s golf.

  • Winning the Solheim Cup in Spain is the best of my dreams,” says Carlota Ciganda before the duel between Europe and the United States.
  • I would have liked Azahara Muñoz to be here, this is her home”, recognizes the Navarre player who has been her partner and friend for many years.
  • The Navarre, with six participations behind her, indispensable reference in the history of the Solheim Cup.

In an imposing setting such as Finca Cortesin, in the prelude to the most important women’s golf event in the world, in the hotbed of passions in which the Solheim Cup has already become, Carlota Ciganda, the only Spanish representative in the European team, faces a supreme challenge: to win all the important amateur and professional tournaments held in Spain.

“Winning the Solheim Cup in Spain is the best of my dreams. I want to win it for the country, for the team, for the captain, it would be a permanent memory in my life”, says Ciganda before the imminent duel between Europe and the United States, a tournament where she misses the presence of Azahara Muñoz – “I would have liked her to be here, at home”-, her partner and friend for many years.

Not surprisingly, Ciganda, with six participations in the Solheim Cup, is the second player of the European team with more experience in these matters along with England’s Charley Hully, only behind Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, who has played seven.

The challenge of contributing to Europe’s victory is for Ciganda an extraordinary reward that exceeds the limits of her personal sporting history, closely linked to the history of Spanish women’s golf. Not in vain, it is not that both stories have run parallel in the last 23 years, it is that the history of Spanish women’s golf has been written in a very important part in the handwriting of the Navarre golfer.

It all began in 2000, when a girl of just 10 years old won the Spanish Junior Championship in Mallorca. At that time she was already imposing her law with an iron fist -only 2 over par of the course and, attention, 24 strokes ahead of the second classified!!!-, a glorious performance that then turned the word competition into a chimera by the work and grace of a golf that has gained in consistency, solidity and even spectacularity over the years.

Then came all, yes, yes, all possible titles of champion of Spain, the amateur level from junior to senior category before winning, in a single participation, the Spanish Professional Championship in 2012.

Talent has since taken her very far, to shine with unusual strength on the European Tour and even on the American Tour, also conquering along the way decisive milestones in her personal sporting history and her relationship with Spain. In 2019 she finally won an LET tournament held in our country -the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open- and in 2021 she completed her feat by winning her country’s Open, the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España.

A flood of tears welled up in her eyes, aware of having closed a unique victorious circle in the history of Spanish golf. That history, however, always imposes additional challenges exclusive to athletes of the greatness, of Carlota Ciganda.

A close relationship with the Solheim Cup

Carlota Ciganda participated for the first time in a Solheim Cup in 2013, in Colorado, USA, where she lived a historic edition, as it was the first time the European team won on American soil. Since then, the Spanish golfer has not missed any edition, five in total before this one, with a balance of three victories, the one referred to in 2013 and those of 2019 and 2021.

In more detail, Carlota Ciganda has played 19 matches in the Solheim Cup, divided into 10 matches in Fourball pairs, with a balance of three wins, five losses and two draws; four Foursomes, with one win, two losses and a draw; and five singles, with three wins, one loss and one draw.

With these numbers, the 33-year-old Spanish golfer is presented as one of the great assets of the European team, but also for her sporting merits, for her experience in the different modalities of this competition and for the energy, passion and enthusiasm she transmits every time she puts on the European team’s polo shirt.


A yellow cloud follows Anna Nordqvist

Finca Cortesin is getting atmosphere and color. On Wednesday there were hundreds of fans who came to the course to cheer on their team ahead of the big battle that begins on Friday. There were European fans, but also American fans. Those who have been most noticeable are the Swedes, a large group of friends and family of Anna Nordqvist dressed in yellow shirts that have chanted each of the strokes of the extraordinary Nordic golfer. They form the cloud that follows her in sunshine and shadow.

Carlota holed from 164 meters

Carlota Ciganda has shared nine holes of practice with Anna Nordqvist, both accompanied by about two hundred fans who have cheered each of their shots. The highlight of the morning was the unlikely eagle that the Spaniard scored on the 16th hole: she hit the second shot with a 4-iron from 164 meters (data provided by Carlota herself). “Friday we want one of these!” a fan shouted from outside the ropes.

Caroline Hedwall returns to where she was happy

It is said that where one has been happy one should not return, but Caroline Hedwall has ignored this and returned to the Costa del Sol a year after winning the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España on the Alferini course. “Coming back to this area brings back great memories. I feel very comfortable, plus I really like the course, so it’s great to be here,” says Caroline.

Interestingly, those days also featured two other Swedes battling to lead the tour’s order of merit, Linn Grant -who took the overall lead- and Maja Stark. Today all three are on the biggest stage in world golf.

An ambassador named Belén Mozo

A high-level tournament needs high-level ambassadors, and the Solheim has a prestigious one. She is Belén Mozo, a player from Cadiz with a recent past in the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA. At Finca Cortesín she is playing the role of ambassador for the tournament, taking charge of the presentation of institutional events and sharing interesting content for fans on social networks, both her own -with more than 100,000 followers on Instagram- and those of the tournament.

DJ Suzann Pettersen

The European team’s training sessions had the surprising extra motivation of the music chosen by the captain, Susann Pettersen, which played through a portable speaker she carried in her buggie. The songs chosen were as “sporty” as “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC or “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, and others as well known as “Viva la vida” by Cold Play or “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias.

Sweden catches up with England in the Solheim Cup list of winners

Sweden, with rookies Linn Grant and Maja Stark, as well as Anna Nordqvist, Madelene Sagstrom and Caroline Hedwall, is the country with the most players in the European team of this Solheim Cup. This fact has also led the Nordic country to reach England in the history of players who have played the Solheim Cup, with a total of 14.

In addition to the aforementioned golfers, the historic Swedish group is completed by Helen Alfredsson, Sophie Gustafson and Annika Sorenstam (8 participations), Liselotte Neumann (6), Maria Hjorth McBride and Catrin Nilsmark (5), Carin Koch (4) and Charlotta Sorenstam and Linda Wessberg (1).

As for the English players who have played the Solheim Cup, in addition to Charley Hull and Georgia Hall, who will play this edition and who have six and four participations, they are Laura Davies (12 participations), Trish Johnson (8), Alison Nicholas (6), Mel Reid (4), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (3), Lisa Hall Hackney and Karen Stupples (2), and Bronte Law, Joanne Morley, Florentyna Parker, Kitrina Douglas and Lora Fairclough (1).

The Solheim Cup 2023, an event of exceptional public interest whose official venue is Finca Cortesin, is sponsored by PING, Costa del Sol Tourism and Rolex as global partners; and by the Consejería de Turismo, Cultura y Deporte de la Junta de Andalucía, with co-financing from the European Union, Acosol, the Marbella Town Hall and the Benahavís Town Hall as official partners, and Casares Town Hall and Reale Seguros are official sponsors. Solán de Cabras, Eversheds Sutherland, Toro, Vithas, E-Z-GO, Jet Set Sports and Olin are official suppliers. BMW Automotor Premium is official sustainability car. Peninsula and Trablisa are sustainability partners. Marca and Radio Marca are official media. Promoted and organised by Deporte & Business. Gusto del Sur, DOP Jabugo and Málaga are Proud Supporters. LET, LPGA, RFEG, CSD and RFGA collaborate in its organisation.

More information on the website, on the Twitter account @SolheimCup2023, on the Instagram account @solheimcup2023esp and on the Facebook page Solheim Cup 2023.