If Carlota Ciganda were asked what three items she would take to a desert island, they would be an iPad, water and chocolate. At the moment, emulating Robinson Crusoe is not on her agenda, and she is focusing her energies on the US LPGA Tour. The 24-year-old from Navarra, who first attracted the spotlight as a professional when winning the order of merit in her debut season on the Ladies European Tour (2012), almost won the last event of the 2014 LPGA Tour. In the end, she lost out on the fourth play-off hole against the amazing Lydia Ko, ranked third in the world at just 17 years of age.
Just before achieving this second place, Carlota had crossed the Atlantic to compete on Mallorca in the Olazábal & Nadal Invitational by Pula Golf, a charity tournament promoted by the dual US Masters golf champion and Mallorcan tennis star.
- You are a sincere and straightforward person, someone who loves simplicity, your family and friends, and with realistic and resolute goals. This is the Carlota Ciganda reflected in life. Is this description accurate? Can it also be applied to Carlota Ciganda the golf professional?
- I don’t need much to be okay. I like simple and easy things, and tranquillity. I’m very family-orientated, a friend to my friends. I like to have a good time on the golf course, and also off it, to play a lot of sport and enjoy it.
- What has changed for you since 2011, when you turned professional? How has playing in the US shaped you?
- When you decide to dedicate your career to this you set certain objectives. I like to take things seriously, to have a routine, practise in the mornings, play golf, a bit of fitness training, and be more relaxed on the weekends. I have a plan, and I keep to it. As for the US, I knew the tour, really good people at university, how you live over there, etc. The experience has made me more independent; I’ve been alone a long time, although now I’m home and I love it.
- With a golf club in your hands since five years of age, a winner as an amateur, great expectations as a professional… how do you see yourself within a few years?
- I prefer to go little by little, working day by day. This is a process – you have to keep learning – and I believe I can be among the best in the world.
- Your parents, Rogelio (her long-time coach, who died last year)… other people who have played a key role in your professional career?
- Rogelio is the person who taught me everything. My parents have also supported me a lot, giving me everything that I have needed. Other people… I’ve always liked Sergio García, Olazábal and Nadal. I pay attention to how they compete, how they play…
- Are you aware of the fact that you represent the best generation of female golfers in Spanish history?
- Probably not… I’m part of a very good group with Azahara (Muñoz), Belén (Mozo), Beatriz (Recari), María Hernández. I believe that we played really well as amateurs and now also. We play with a view to winning more titles for Spain.
- You have always said that the main key to your love of golf and your decision to turn professional is that you have fun. How do you prioritise this feeling against the pressure of being considered almost a prodigious golfer, with no limits and with great possibilities in your career?
- In the end you realise it’s a sport. You have to try to win, without forgetting that – win or lose – life continues… no big deal, no one has died. I play and enjoy it by preparing a plan to help me to play the best I can and to be up among the best. If things don’t turn out well, you have to keep going until you achieve what you want to, and never give up.
- What can be done to ensure that women and women’s golf are in the place they deserve to be? Do you believe there is still a long path ahead?
- Little by little more attention is being paid to women’s golf. We have five (Spanish) players on the LPGA Tour. In reality, what affects all this is that there are women on the main tours, among the world elite. If we win tournaments and this is reflected on the TV, in the media, bit by bit things will improve. Nevertheless, it’s hard to compete against football, against tennis…In the US they show a lot of golf on the TV and in Spain you almost can’t see it – that makes it complicated.
- You admire Rafael Nadal, as you have observed on several occasions, for the way he competes and also for his humility. What was it like playing alongside him, for a charitable cause?
Getting to know him and play with him has been an incredible experience. He’s very friendly and I really enjoyed being with him. In the end, you think he’s going to be different, that he will have something that you don’t… and you realise he’s very normal.
- What inquisitiveness led you to start studying sociology?
- In Arizona, I began studying business, later psychology and sociology, but what I really liked was sport and my priority was golf.
- If you had not become a golf professional, what would you have liked to be? What are your aspirations in other areas and your personal projects?
- As I said, I like sport, everything associated with it, what surrounds it, sportspeople who have suffered and have the capacity to go far. I don’t see myself in an office. My life is all about sport.
- You are a supporter of Osasuna and Athletic… and after golf, football?
- Football predominates in my family. My uncle played for Athletic and I have memories of going together to see him. At home we talk about football, golf and tennis, and we follow Rafa Nadal a lot.
- You would change Ulzama (your birthplace) for…
- For nothing. It’s my home, where I’ve always lived, where my roots are, my family and my people… I love it.
- Your schedule for 2015: will you play in Spain and support women’s professional golf here?
- I would like to play in the Spanish Open and, as long as it doesn’t coincide with a top tournament in the US, I will do everything I can to be here.