Local hero Carlota Ciganda leads Team Europe to thrilling Solheim Cup comeback

Carlota Ciganda is the hero of Team Europe so far at the Solheim Cup.

With a record of 3-0-0, the Spaniard has helped Europe climb out of a 4-to-0 deficit and tie the Americans at the end of Saturday’s fourball play.

“It’s been amazing,” Ciganda said after Saturday’s play. “[Friday] and today, but certainly today in the afternoon, I knew we were doing good because I could hear the people cheering pretty loud. So an amazing feeling. I just can’t believe we’re playing here in Spain, and so happy to be a part of this amazing team.”

“Playing in front of my family, home crowd, friends, I just love it. I love this. I’m embracing this week. I think it’s been great. I still have a big day tomorrow, but I’m just trying to enjoy it.”

Carlota Ciganda, LPGA, Solheim Cup

Carlota Ciganda tees off on the 2nd hole during Day Two of the 2023 Solheim Cup.
Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Interestingly, Captain Suzann Pettersen sat Ciganda during the opening foursome session on Friday.

The Americans swept the Europeans then, but Ciganda helped start the comeback on Friday afternoon.

Playing alongside Linn Grant, the two Europeans defeated Angel Yin and Ally Ewing 4 & 2 late on Friday, as Team Europe cut the deficit to 5-to-3 by the end of the day.

Then, on Saturday morning, Ciganda and Emily Pedersen defeated Jennifer Kupcho and Lilia Vu in alternate shot, 2 & 1.

Riding the hot hand, Pettersen again sent Ciganda out with Grant in the final fourball.

They played superbly, winning 2 & 1 to tie the overall score, 8-to-8.

Ciganda made six birdies on the front nine and was 8-under overall when the match ended on the 17th green.

“I’m just enjoying the moment, and playing with [Grant] is just such a pleasure,” Ciganda added. “She does everything great. Great ball striking… We can both be aggressive. We love going for the pin and making birdies. I think, yeah, we showed something today. So it’s pretty amazing.”

Had her American counterparts, Danielle Kang and Vu, not played as well as they did, the match likely would have ended earlier.

But even with Kang and Vu playing spectacularly, Ciganda played better. She thrived under pressure, despite not feeling “nervous.”

“It’s just more adrenaline, like, just excitement that, I mean, it’s a dream come true,” Ciganda said. “I’ve been playing professionally for 12 years, so I’m just happy to be here, happy to be playing in Spain. I think it’s great. The atmosphere on the first hole and then on all these holes that you have a lot of people. I think the crowds are amazing. We need them tomorrow. Yes, very loud.”

Linn Grant, Carlota Ciganda, LPGA, Solheim Cup

Linn Grant fist bumps Carlota Ciganda during day two of the 2023 Solheim Cup.
Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

The Solheim Cup is tied for the first time since 2018, the last time this competition was held in Europe. That year at Gleneagles in Scotland, Team Europe won 6.5 out of 12 possible on Sunday to win 14.5-to-13.5.

They hope they get the same result this time around, but Captain Pettersen warned her team not to get complacent.

“We have great momentum going our way,” Pettersen said. “I’ve been trying to actually ground the entire team in the team room now before I came here. Yes, we have done a tremendous job to get where we are now, but we’re not even—we’re not even there. There are 12 points up for grabs tomorrow, and I want them to go out and feel like we’re still behind.”

Ciganda will certainly play as if she is behind, thanks to all that adrenaline in her system. She has proven that thus far. Whether the rest of the Europeans do remains to be seen, but it would not surprise anyone if they came out with a vengeance yet again.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

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