College Notes: Life as an individual golfer

Carlota Ciganda of Arizona State during the 2009 NCAA Championship.

Women's Rankings »

RankNameSchoolRating
1Alison LeeUCLA  69.96 
2Stephanie MeadowAlabama  70.17 
3Gaby LopezArkansas  70.29 
4Noemi JimenezArizona St  70.31 
5Celine BoutierDuke  70.40 

Women's Team Rankings »

RankNameRatingEvents
1Southern California 70.64  13 
2UCLA 70.83  12 
3Duke 70.89  11 
4Stanford 71.74  13 
5Arizona State 71.75  12 

After a number of teammates left Arizona State this summer for the pro ranks, junior Carlota Ciganda was forced to compete as an individual in 2010-11, along with junior Giulia Molinaro and freshman Nicole Jones. Below is a Q&A with Ciganda, who explains the differences between playing Division I golf as a team member and as an individual.

What has this fall been like playing as an individual?

It was weird because I think it’s much better to be at least five people, it’s more fun. Traveling one or two, I go with Giulia (Molinaro), she’s my best friend and have a lot of fun with her. I would like to have a team because you are more motivated and you have more fun. I love Giulia and I like going with them but I think having a team, it’s much better.

What do you do as far as team practice?

This semester, we just go whenever we want. We can practice in the morning, then we have class in the afternoon so we have to go there whenever we want. When we want to play we just ask coach to play in different courses. It’s nice because you can practice whenever you like. Then the tournaments, it’s much better going as a team.

How did the Women’s World Team Amateur go?

I was playing with Spain and we finished sixth. ... I didn’t play my best golf, but I think I finished 22nd. It was a great experience because I was playing with two of my best friends from Spain (Marta Silva and Mireia Prat).

You already have won the Pac 10s and an NCAA Regional as an individual. What are some goals you have for the spring?

I’m working really hard now on my swing and I want to improve some things in my swing. ... I just want to go to the tournaments, have fun, play my best and be in the top 10 in all the tournaments. Just go there and play.

What do you have planned for the winter? Any individual tournaments here or back home?

I’m going back home and i will see my coach so it’s kind of nice even though it’s a little bit cold because I live in the north of Spain. So the weather is not helping me, but it’s nice to see my coach so I can work on my swing. He gives me confidence. ... I go over there and play with him, practice and that’s it. I have no tournaments until I come here again.

• • •

CYCLONE WARNING: Iowa State doesn’t have a go-to player this season. As head coach Christi Martens explains, that role can come from anywhere on the Cyclone roster. In fact, when Iowa State won the Challenge at Onion Creek on Nov. 2, that score wasn’t even among the five designated team players.

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The Iowa State Cyclones celebrate after winning the Challenge at Onion Creek.

The win was a major milestone for Iowa State, not only because it ended the season on a high note but because it was the first title for the program since 2004. It’s the second major achievement for this team in the past year, and don’t think one doesn’t have anything to do with the other.

Iowa State earned its first NCAA Regional berth last May since 1996. Needless to say, the experience affected Martens’ squad.

“The players got a taste in their mouth of what it’s like to be competing in the postseason,” she said.

The Cyclones finished no worse than fourth in five tournaments played this fall, and the team is ranked No. 26 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. 

Playing at Onion Creek Club in Austin, Texas, Iowa State set the pace early, opening with a 7-over 287 before going one shot higher as a team in Round 2. Even as the wind picked up in the final round, the Cyclones held their ground with a final-round 309 and still beat second-place Arkansas-Little Rock by five shots. The Cyclones’ 44-over 884 is the fourth-lowest total in school history.

Victoria Stefansen came out on top for the Cyclones, but a closer look at the leaderboard revealed that Stefansen’s score wasn’t part of the team total.

“She wasn’t even counting for the team, and she was our highest finisher,” Martens said. “We’ve had a good fall, because every week someone different played well.”

Prima Thammaraks and Punpaka Phuntumabamrung finished T-10 and T-11, respectively, to lead the Iowa State charge, and no player finished outside the top 27. During the second round, Martens could see the camaraderie show through as players made their way around the tightly-designed back nine at Onion Creek, waving their arms at one another in excitement and encouragement.

“That’s the thing about our team this year is, we really have six good players,” Martens said.

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