FLORIDA: Spain’s Carlota Ciganda held her nerve down the last hole to take the individual title by one shot at the Aramco Team Series presented by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in Florida, on the challenging Trump International West Palm Beach layout.
Ciganda, an Arizona State University alumnus, held off the Czech Republic’s Klara Davidson Spilkova to secure her first victory of the year and seventh Ladies European Tour win after a final round of 73. Scoring showed the challenge the Trump International course presented with two-under-par marking the winning score for the second of the five Aramco Team Series events.
“To win is always special. It’s not easy to win nowadays, there is a lot of good players and a lot of youngsters coming in very strong,” the champion said after celebrating with her fellow countrywoman on the 18th green. “So yeah to come here and win, I think it’s big also with the likes of Lexi, Lydia and Alison. It feels very special.”
The challenges of the par-72 layout were the talk of the weekend, with just two players finishing under par for the week. The Spaniard alluded to the winning formula. “Patience was the key for this week. I think it’s a very tricky golf course. Pretty much every hole has a creek or a lake or a hazard. It’s a great ball-striking course, you have to hit it to the right spot so I just wanted to be patient and try to give myself birdie chances.”
The win secures Ciganda vital “Race to Costa Del Sol” points during a Solheim Cup year, which is due to take place in her home country of Spain in September. The Spaniard has previously played a vital role in Team Europe’s 2013, 2019 and 2021 victories.
Spilkova came up just shy of securing her third LET victory with one of the best back nines of the day to put her in contention. Birdies on 13 and 15 lifted the Czech to second place but she could not find another on the tricky final hole to force a playoff. The 28-year-old said after the round: “It was difficult, mentally quite a difficult golf course. I think the first day was my best day, I was in a nice flow and hitting a lot of pars.
“The last two days was like a real rollercoaster but I fought back on the back nine today. It was good and I felt really good. After a tough first nine today, I was very proud of myself, that other one shot or two would have been nice but I’m happy.”
Olivia Cowan tied the low round of the day, a four-under-par 68, to climb 15 places and set the clubhouse lead at level par. Ending up two shots shy of the win, Cowan said after the round: “I managed to get a few birdies out there today, I don’t know what was going on. I guess we were getting the right lines today and hitting it quite close. I gave myself a lot of chances and rolled the putts nicely.
“We had a lot of fun this week and it was nice to have my friend on the bag to support me.”
Cowan finished in a tie for third place alongside world No. 3 Lydia Ko who could not get going shooting a one-over-par 73, matching her third-place finish in her first Aramco Team Series event in Singapore earlier this year. Home favorite and Florida native Lexi Thompson struggled on the final day, shooting 78 to fall into tie for 21st.
It was Ciganda’s compatriot Nuria Iturrioz who held a one-shot overnight lead going into the final day, but Trump International’s challenging water holes proved difficult for many and saw Iturrioz fall back into a tie for 28th individually, but her team had done enough in the first two rounds to secure the team championship.
Earlier in the day the team championship concluded with Team Roussin rising to the top to win by two, securing France’s Pauline Roussin’s back-to-back victories in the series after she won the individual title in Singapore earlier in the year. The French star captained her team of Iturrioz, Solheim Cup legend Trish Johnson and amateur Michael Bickford to victory this week with a score of 25-under-par.
On the win, Roussin said: “It was a lot of fun. We really got along, and we had fun out there, despite how much of a challenge the golf course is. And now here we are with the trophies. It’s pretty cool … I’m proud of this team, and I would not have wished to play it with any other people.”
The next stop for the Aramco Team Series is at Centurion Club from July 14 to 16 before events in Hong Kong and Riyadh to conclude the 2023 series.