Carlota Ciganda should give hope to aspiring tournament professionals everywhere. Twelve months ago, the Spaniard was fighting for a place on the Ladies European Tour.
Now she’s queen of the LET castle.
The former Arizona State player made history by becoming the first player since Laura Davies 27 years ago to win the LET Order of Merit and rookie of the year in the same season.
The 22-year-old from Pamplona, Spain, led the money list heading into the season-ending Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, and tied for 10th place to finish ahead of Germany’s Caroline Masson in earnings. China’s Shanshan Feng won the tournament and the top prize of €75,000 with a 21-under total of 267 at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, five shots ahead of Dewi-Claire Schreefel from The Netherlands.
Ciganda had two victories this season and nine more top-10 finishes en route to earning €251,289.95 from 19 events. She won the Order of Merit by just under €10,000 from Masson. Ciganda also picked up a €20,000 bonus and a 10-year LET exemption.
“It’s an honor to win the ISPS Handa Order of Merit as a rookie, and I’m very happy,” Ciganda said. “It’s a real privilege to follow Laura Davies in achieving this rare double. I played with her a lot this year, and I think it was very good for me because I learned so many things. She’s so talented, and I think she’s one of the best players of all time in golf.
“I’ve won two amazing tournaments, in Holland and China, and that was great. I’ve been playing all over, and I’m playing and having fun. It’s been a very good year. Hopefully I can win many more titles in the future.”
Twelve months ago, Ciganda was going through the agony of LET Q-School. She earned the third card and parlayed that into an amazing rookie year.
Winner of the 2007 Ladies’ British Amateur and 2004 and ’08 European Amateur Championships, Ciganda won the Deloitte Ladies Open in Rotterdam in June. Then in October, she posted a record victory in the China Suzhou Taihu Ladies’ Open. Her 17-under total produced a seven-shot victory, allowing her to break by one shot World No. 1 Yani Tseng’s winning total from the previous year.
Ciganda is only the third Spanish player to win the LET Order of Merit since the Tour’s inception in 1979, following Raquel Carriedo in 2001 and Paula Marti a year later.