Carlota Ciganda of Spain led the 2012 ISPS Handa Order of Merit leading into the Ladies European Tour’s season-ending Omega Dubai Ladies Masters at Emirates Golf Club. Read her comments ahead of the tournament here.
Carlota Ciganda, leading the rookie rankings this year. This is your first visit to Dubai, and I believe, and this tournament, can you start by talking about how it feels to be here?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I love it at the moment. I played here three times as an amateur and this is my first time as a professional, and I'm very happy to be here because I really like the course, all of the people here. The food is really good, and the course is amazing. It's in great shape and I think it's a great moment to finish here the Ladies European Tour.
Q. It's been a dream season for you, leading the Order of Merit coming into the final; look back at the season.
CARLOTA CIGANDA: In Australia the first event, I love to compete and playing in the moment, and then I started playing in the LET and I've been playing all year. I've won two amazing tournaments in China and that was great.
And I've been playing all over and I'm playing and having fun. It's been a very good year. It's easy to travel, living my family, because I studied in the States so it's nice to be back home again, and I really like it playing in Europe.
Q. Can you talk about the race and this weekend and how do you think Caroline is going to do, and are you thinking about her game or are you just thinking about your positioning this weekend?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I think she's going to play good. She's been playing great all year and she got her card last week and I'm very happy for her because she's a great player.
I'm going to focus on my game ‑‑ it's one more week of golf, four more days and I just enjoy playing golf and I'm going to play one day at a time and enjoy the beautiful course and beautiful weather.
Yeah, I'm going to think of my game but nothing else. It's going to be great.
Q. You're in the lead, so psychologically is that an advantage or disadvantage, or how do you view it?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I think it's an advantage if you are first on the Money List. But I don't like to think too much about that.
I just like to think about playing golf and playing on the course and if you give it 100 percent when you are on the course, I think the result is going to be good and if you play good, you're going to be at the top.
Q. You played amateur golf for quite a few years and you turned professional only this year. Do you think that there's been an advantage for you that you played so much amateur golf?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I played for three years, and that was good, the experience, playing a lot of courses there, and then I felt I was ready.
Some people make the turn when I was 18, but when I was 20 ‑‑ when I was 21, it was good playing as an amateur and now it is good playing as a professional and I am happy because I am enjoying.
So I think it's the right time. I don't think too much amateur, professional, but I was ready so I turned it.
Q. Laura Davies, she was the first lady to win the Order of Merit as rookie; what do you think of that achievement, and what do you think of ‑‑
CARLOTA CIGANDA: Yeah, I played with her a lot this year and I think it was very good for me to play with her because I learned so many things.
She's so talented and I think she's one of the best players of all times in golf. I don't know how many times she won the Money List and she's such a good person on the course and she's so talented. She can hit shots from anywhere. So playing with her was good.
Then she was really nice with me, so to win the Money List as a rookie would be an honor for me ‑‑ I'm very happy ‑‑ first play the Pro‑Am and then the next day and we'll see how it goes, because it's golf and anything can happen.
Q. Laura said you're not a rookie in the true sense of the word because you've been an amateur so long and you've played so many events; do you acknowledge that you might not be actually a rookie?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I played in the Ladies European Tour and I played in the LPGA also so I know how it works a little but I never played ‑‑ I think I'm a rookie and a lot of things I need to keep learning a lot.
I'm just starting, so I think I have to improve in a lot of things in the game and just going to try to do that and have fun out there.
Q. What has been the most difficult thing as a full professional? And what has been the most enjoyable thing for you?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: The most difficult, maybe all the traveling and going to China, the jet‑lag, then coming back and spending a lot of weeks out of home. But I like it because when I go to the place and I go to the course, I'm happy and I love to play golf.
Then I really enjoyed playing in Europe, the players were very good and very nice with me. It's like a family so it's really nice.
Then I was happy to have my caddie, as well, he's a good friend. His name is Javi. He helps me a lot and has a lot of confidence in my game. He was really helping me and I think I've been very lucky. I can't complain at all. I don't see any bad things about The European Tour; all good.
Q. And you come from Spain which has a tradition of great golfers starting from Seve Ballesteros to some of the recent ones. Who would be your idol and can you tell me any influence Seve has been in your life?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I never saw him play but I saw like a lot of videos of him and I'm good friends with his son because we played amateur golf together, and he plays good golf.
Seve, he won two times the Masters, so in Spain I think for European golf, he was a hero and he was unbelievable the way he played. He could hit a shot from anywhere. I think he was one of the good golfers of all time.
Then a lot of Spanish won here, like José Maria Olazábal has won here, Alvaro Quiros, Rafa, Seve, so it's good.
Q. Any recent players on the men's tour ‑‑ have you had any talks with any of the recent players about turning pro and life as a professional?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: A few players, I knew Sergio García and I know Gonzalo Fernández‑Castaño, I'm friends with them. Sergio, I'm good friends and I played with him before going to India and he just says to keep enjoying and keep having fun because golf can be really nice sometimes and other times not that fun. So just try to enjoy the good moments and take the most of everything.
Q. Have you found this year hard, because there's a consensus that a rookie should struggle for the first year; is there a side of your game that we haven't seen that you have struggled to cope this year?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: The beginning of the year, I wasn't happy with my putting, so I worked really hard on my putting with Olazábal and he gave me advice. I played with him a couple of days and he watched me putting and he told me a few things. I was working on that and that was maybe in June.
And then July, after July started to putt better. And then with my coach, I was work with him and I think you can say just small things. I don't think you need to change a lot of things because when you are on the course you need to compete and just try to put the ball in the hole in the way you can. So sometimes it can be doing good and sometimes you're not hitting the ball good so you need to make up on that.
So I think you need to compete and play golf. I think some people, they think too much and they are thinking about maybe the club is aiming to the right or to the left. I think it needs to be more simple. But I'm very happy with my year and I've been having a lot of fun, made a lot of friends, so I can't complain.
Q. There's a lot of pressure to turn professional very young, whether it be golf, tennis. How much has it been easier for you to take this year in your stride because you are that bit more mature and perhaps more of a rounded individual, as it were?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I turned pro when I was ready. When I was 1 it was the right time to go to the States because I had to learn so many things about playing in the States and playing different courses and getting to know the people, living there without my parents and living and experience.
When I was 21, I thought that I was ready to turn pro, and I joined the LPGA, and I had conditional card but then I missed Spain and my home and my family.
So I thought that playing in Europe would be a really nice start to keep being with my coach and keep being home. I had a lot of expectations and I just tried to play one week at time a time and one tournament. It was my first time so I didn't know how it was going to be.
So I don't know, I just tried to play golf and have fun each week and it was good. But I think maybe some players are thinking more about the card. I just try to play golf, and, whatever, if I play good, okay and if it's bad, I'm just doing what I love.
Q. Obviously the Spanish passion is (inaudible).
CARLOTA CIGANDA: My uncle played football, first division team ‑‑ so I used to go to the stadium to see him play and I really liked that team. Then between Barcelona and Madrid, I prefer Barcelona because of the way they play. I really like Messi and I feel that they play as a team and they are doing great. But I think Real Madrid is doing great, also. I mean, they have great players, so it's nice to see that competitiveness in Spain between football.
Q. And what player ‑‑
CARLOTA CIGANDA: José Fernanda ‑‑ inaudible ‑‑
Q. What position?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: He was playing in ‑‑ I don't know how they say ‑‑ attack.
Q. What would it mean to you if you were to secure the Money List in Europe this weekend? How much would it mean to your career?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: Well, I think it would be amazing, because winning the first year, and I think that you feel very confident and that's great for your game. It's a great, how do you say, reward for the year. I don't think I'm going to change much.
I'm still going to be doing the same things, being with my family, with my friends, stay at home, having fun at Christmas. It's going to be great, but, I don't know, just one more tournament, one more week, and I will be very happy.
Q. Do you feel as if Caroline can get back into this?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: Yeah, I mean, if she wins, I think if she wins top three or if I don't play good, she can win. But I think she has a lot of chances. I know she's going to fight hard and try to do that so I'm just going to try to focus on my game and play the best I can, and we'll see.
If she wins and if she plays good, I will be happy for her because she deserves it. So, yeah, I will try to think of my game and may play.
Q. Do you feel like a rookie, as well? Do you feel like a rookie?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I think I feel like a rookie. First year, I think I need to learn a lot of things.
Q. With the goal getting closer and closer, and closer ‑‑
CARLOTA CIGANDA: Last week and then this week, that there's going to be the winner. But I am very focused in staying in the present and just playing golf because it's what I do every day so I don't think too much about what others are thinking or doing.
I just try to play golf and try to enjoy that moment. But I mean, yeah, I can feel there is more media around, interviews. I can understand that. That's fine. I don't mind. I like to play golf.
Q. And have you thought about next year, what next year might bring, what it result might bring for you in terms of opportunities next year as a result?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I haven't think too much about it. I think I am a rookie so I don't know a lot of things, but I think next year I will look at what tournaments I can have and I could play maybe a few events in the LPGA also, so that would be great, also.
But I'm happy here in Europe and I want to keep playing here most of the events. So I think it will be good if I win because you can have great advantages and we don't know what's coming.
Q. How many times have you played here and can you remember your scores?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I cannot remember the scores. The first year was in 2007, and I think I finished Top‑20, because my brother was caddying for me and he's here, he told me yesterday. And then I played I think 2009 and 2010 or ‑‑ I don't know. Last year, so 2011. I love the golf this is a great week, I love the course. I enjoy it a lot, yeah.