|Carlota during the Pro Am at Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club on Wednesday
Solheim Cup star Carlota Ciganda of Spain will attempt to defend the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open this week when the three-round tournament gets under way at Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club from Friday.
Ciganda romped to a seven stroke victory at the venue last year after rounds of 65, 70 and 64 for a tournament record 17 under par.
This year, Carlota has had a hectic schedule and comes into the event on the back of a tie for 11th last week in Chinese Taipei.
Although a little tired from travelling, she says she has enough in the energy bank to become the first player to win this event twice.
“I think I can do it. I have four more tournaments and I would love to get a win,” said the 23-year-old from Pamplona.
“I am very happy to be here and can’t wait to start playing on Friday. I’ll try my best and I’m going to try to have a good three days. I like the course and know it very well so I’ll practice and see how it goes.”
She feels that a repeat round of 64 might be a stretch: “Its golf, so I think it’s really hard to play the same as last year because I was very good, to shoot 17 under over three days. I’m just going to try my best and we’ll see,” she said. “I’m happy with my year. I’ve been playing European Tour and LPGA so it has been tough travelling.”
After a stunning 2012 season on the LET, when she created history by becoming the first Ladies European Tour player since Laura Davies 27 years before to claim the ISPS Handa Order of Merit and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season, Ciganda has gone on to experience more success in 2013.
Currently ranked 7th on the LET order of merit after 10 tournaments, Ciganda collected her third LET trophy after a play-off against Charley Hull at the weather shortened UniCredit Ladies German Open presented by Audi in early June. She also tied for 2nd in the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open.
From 17 starts on LPGA, the Rolex Rankings 42 has posted 2 top 10s including a season-best finish of 2nd at the North Texas LPGA Shootout.
She is looking to end the season on a high note, but said: “I’m happy with my season after playing The Solheim Cup and I have been playing well the last few weeks in Asia. I’m looking forward to the end of the year, getting some rest and then getting ready for next year.”
She rates Europe’s historic Solheim Cup win in Colorado as the best experience. “The team atmosphere: that was the best tournament ever; beating the Americans in the US: the best feeling!”
Ciganda added that her Solheim Cup partner, World No.2 Suzann Pettersen, has been an inspiration.
“She’s been in the top ten for so many years but she’s too good. I need to improve a lot to get to her level,” she said. “Look at the year she’s had. She has won so many tournaments and playing great: always in the top ten. I would love to be like that in the future.”