"Carlota is the perfect player for a tournament such as the Solheim Cup"
Sergio Garcia, during the interview
The tour stops this week in Madrid for its new date: the Open de Espana femenino and with this event, there are now in total three tournaments left and three weeks until the selection of the final team to represent Europe in the Solheim Cup (the exact date is Sunday August 4th). There are also 3 Spanish players right now between 8 players who could be part of the team by direct qualification due to their position in both rankings. Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Munoz and Beatriz Recari could repeat the success of the European Team in 1987 achieved by Severiano Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Jose Rivero, when they defeated the Americans on American soil for the first time in the Ryder Cup’s history.
To talk about this, we met with a player who is making history in Spanish golf and in the Ryder Cup too, by participating in 6 editions since his debut in 1999. On Sunday June 30th we met with Sergio Garcia on a terrace of Benicassim, Castellon, where he was born and where he learnt to play golf. He was spending a few days with his family there, preparing in "La Coma" for his next European date, the Open, which is starting this week. We talked about his first Ryder Cup, women's golf, our Spanish players and of course, the Solheim Cup, which is just around the corner. What else would you expect?
Q: Sergio, you know the three Spanish players who may become part of the Solheim Cup team… What advice would you give to potential rookies Carlota and Beatriz from your experience as a rookie in that debut in the Ryder Cup yours 99?
A: Yes, I know Carlota, Beatriz and Azahara personally. As a rookie, I remember that year, of course, I was nervous because it was the Ryder Cup, a tournament that I had always admired and dreamt of. But the truth is that once you're there and you're in the team environment with your colleagues and team mates and begin to know them much better and more personally ... you get in the ambience and you forget about all the nervousness ... For me it was a spectacular week (despite how it ended, Europe lost 13.5 to 14.5) and a tremendous experience. Not only from the professional perspective, but also personally… getting to know much better all players. I feel that in the Ryder I have been so fortunate to make many good friends that are players. There were many players that I got along well, but nothing more… After this experience, you make a different kind of friendship because you give everything there, and that turns it to some special friendship.
Q: Have you had the opportunity to play with Azahara, or Beatriz Carlota? Do you know their game, how would you define it?
R: Carlota is, of the three, the one that I had the chance to know better and we are now sharing a manager. I have had the opportunity to play with her several times. I have also seen Azahara playing, but I have not played with her and played with Beatriz some time ago at the beginning of when she was in the USA.
I had the opportunity to play with Carlota in Venezuela and in Castellon late last year, when she came to play with me and my father. Carlota’s game is the one I know better. I could say that she hits the ball very well, quite strong and straight with the driver. I really like her putting and I think she has a very good putting touch and movement. She is overall a very complete player , her results show this ... She is strong, consistent with the irons and a very good short game. That is why I think that is she a very good partner to play the Fourballs because it is a type of player who can make a lot of birdies and Foursomes, because even though she hits the ball very long, she is also accurate with the direction, so she makes it very easy for her team-mate. She is a perfect kind of player for a tournament such as the Solheim Cup.
I know Azahara from her amateur period, she a little younger than me. I think that when I left the national team, she started to be part of it. The first time we met was during a party organized by Royal Spanish Golf Federation in Madrid and we met on some other tournaments as well. Beatriz is more or less my age. She was the first one I met. When she went to the United States to get the LPGA card, she asked for a little help from us, because we were there and I remember that we were in Miami. She now lives in Orlando, in my old house.
Azahara, during Solheim Cup 2011
Beatriz is not a very long player but very straight. She's very consistent with her long game and then has a spectacular short game. She does not waste many birdie opportunities when she has them and she knows how to make good up and downs when needed ... The truth is that I think that she’s worthy of merit how well she is doing, always remaining within the top, playing well. I imagine it is not easy for her, because she is not one of the longest hitters.
Q: What do you think Carlota needs to become World #1?
A: Well, she has just started. I think she still lacks of experience and she would need to settle in the tours and feel comfortable ... The beginning is never easy when you're far from home ... everything is a new experience. But hey, I think she is already proving very good things…. she has been close to winning a tournament earlier this year in the U.S. and the truth is that the comments that I've heard about her there are very good. People really like her. It’s hard to say if you can get one day number 1 ... By game she could be perfectly, without any doubt. We would need to wait until she grows more, but I think she could be #1 one day in the future time.
Carlota Ciganda during recent tournament
Q: Give them the best advice possible to win this year the Solheim Cup in America
R: Playing the Solheim Cup there is something difficult, you play away from Europe ... Although there are some fans coming from Europe to support you, it is really complicated because people are hard that week. In Chicago, the people there behaved within the limits…….(of good education) ... The most important thing for them is to be together and to build up a real team, very close one to each other, and leave the egos outside the locker rooms. So, during those difficult times you know that you can look at your partner, lean on her and know that she's there 100% with you. That is very important when playing as a team and most important when you play in the US, when you know people are going to shout at you from the crowd and there will be probably difficult moments. If they do this, they have confidence in themselves and play at the level they know, the possibilities of winning will be there. It will be only a matter that things go well.
Having won the previous edition, gives confidence, but we must not forget that this is a new week, a new Solheim Cup and that we start from zero. It helps a little, because some of them they still have it in their minds, in their memory ... but you can be certain that the week is going to be complicated and at the same time, if you take it with the right attitude, it can be also a very fun week.
What they have to do is enjoy it as much as possible, play the best they know and try hard - this is enough to achieve victory.
During the week, I think I'll be playing in Greensboro and will support our team from there.
From the Ladies European Tour, we wish him the best this week playing the Open and hope that the Spanish players will follow all his advice.