Carlota Ciganda holds a huge lead on the LET’s Rolex Rookie of the Year standings and a slim margin over Caroline Masson at the top of the ISPS Handa Order of Merit.
The 22-year-old Spaniard from Pamplona could become the second youngest ever winner of the ranking if she can keep her lead after the final four events of the season.
Laura Davies claimed both the order of merit and rookie title in 1985, aged 22 years and two months, while Carlota is just a few months older.
During her first trip to the Suzhou Taihu Open and Sanya Ladies Open, Carlota spoke about her experiences and impressions of China.
Carlota, what have been your first impressions of China?
It’s a different country from Europe and from what we are used to but I like it. The course is great, the hotel is great, the people are very nice here and very polite. I’m looking forward to the tournament and enjoying the tournament in China.
Have you been to Asia before?
I was in Japan a few years ago with Arizona State and then we stayed a few days in Tokyo, so that was nice.
How do you assess the Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club?
The course is in great shape and the greens are very good. I don’t have a favourite hole, I think the course is great and we are lucky to be here because the weather is good, not cold and windy, so we can have fun this week.
What were your expectations about China?
It’s only the hotel and the golf course so you can’t really see a lot. I would like to go to a city where there are a lot of people. I read that there is 1.3 billion people in China, so that’s crazy. We have 40 million in Spain so Shanghai has 20 million and that’s half of Spain. I can’t imagine it. I would like to go to Shanghai or one of the cities because here I don’t think you can really feel it.
How do you like the food?
It’s a lot of rice, noodles and chicken and I really like it. At breakfast you can have anything you want like yoghurt and cereal, so I like every food so I’m good.
Do you feel confident?
Yes! I am playing well so I will try my best!
Are you thinking about trying to win the order of merit?
You think, but when you start playing the tournament the most important thing is to be in the present time. I would like to finish first but you don’t need to think about that. This tournament is here and I’m going to try to play my best.
What about potentially winning two awards?
It’s always nice to win an award but I want to think about this week first and then about Sanya, and then two more at the end of the year. I would love to win.
Are you happy with your season so far?
I am playing good and having fun in Europe. I am happy with my caddie and living with my family.
You have decided not to attend LPGA Qualifying School. What are your plans for next year?
I am not going this year because I have played three tournaments that count for the LPGA and I played good at the Evian, US Open and British Open, so I think I am 85 in the money list for the LPGA and top 100 in the money list get the card. I think I am going to be there. I don’t think it will move a lot because now they play top 60, top 70 in the Asian tournaments so I think I will go back and forth. I’m not going to forget the LET; I’m going to play here too.
What do you like about the LET?
I like the atmosphere, everyone is very friendly. It’s competitive on the course but then you can go to dinner with anyone, you feel comfortable; everyone says good morning at breakfast, you can talk to anyone. There are Spanish, there are people that I know but I am happy here.
Ultimately, what would you like to do in your career?
I would like to win a major; I would like to go to The Solheim Cup, a lot of goals but I want to go slow.
Do you follow any players?
I played a lot with Laura Davies this year and learned a lot. She has a lot of talent, I love the way she plays, she doesn’t think much, just stands and hits the ball. I’ve never seen anything like that. A lot of talent and she loves the game. Playing with her, you learn a lot. You can have a bad day and shoot two under or have a really good day and shoot one over because you don’t make a lot of putts. Playing with her this year was great. I don’t have a lot of heroes; just think about my own game.
There are many generations on the Ladies European Tour. What do you think about that?
I think that’s great because playing golf, anyone can play. Laura Davies is nearly 50 years old and I am 22. She can win a tournament, I can win a tournament, a 16, 17 year old can win a tournament. I think that’s one of the good things about golf that anyone can play and be at the top each week. I support that. Other sports you can play only until you are 30 or even less. I think that’s a good thing about golf: you can play until an old age. I don’t think I will do that, but it’s good.
Who will win: an Asian player or European Tour player?
I don’t know a lot about the Asians, I am sure they are good but I would say a European.
Carlota recently changed her Twitter account. She says: ‘(It was) because of a mix-up that I made myself with the phone and it would be too long to explain here ... In short, technology, sometimes plays tricks on me. This is my new account: @carlotagolf You are all invited to follow me!’