Spanish rookie Carlota Ciganda needs a top 18 finish at the Tenerife Open de España Femenino this week to surpass Julieta Granada of Paraguay as the new leader of the Ladies European Tour’s ISPS Handa Order of Merit.
Granada moved into pole position with a seventh place finish at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, but is not playing in Spain, opening the door for Ciganda, who moved up to second with a tie for 17th last week at Royal Liverpool.
The 22-year-old from Pamplona will be amongst the favourites at Golf Las Américas, where last year she finished equal second behind Becky Brewerton in a non-official LET matchplay event.
Ciganda has a strong record in Spain and won the Murcia Ladies Open on the LET Access Series in 2011. She also made several appearances in LET tournaments as an amateur, finishing eighth at the 2007 Open de España and third in the 2008 Tenerife Ladies Open.
She has since recorded six top ten finishes in her rookie season on the LET this year, including a victory at the Deloitte Ladies Open in Holland.
“I’m happy to be back here because I like Spain. My family is here, I like the weather and I like the course. The people are great here so I feel good about the week and just try to have fun,” said Ciganda, who has her coach Rogelio Escheverria on site.
When asked about her goals regarding the order of merit, she said: “I would like to be at the top at the end of the year but I don’t think too much. I like to think week by week and day by day in each tournament and I’m trying my best this week.”
Ciganda is feeling much better having recovered from a bout of food poisoning during the Ricoh Women’s British Open. She and her caddie Javi were so ill in Hoylake that they could hardly eat for two days but are now fully focused on winning their home title this week.
No Spanish player has ever won the Open de España Femenino in its 30-year history since the first tournament in 1982 and Ciganda will be looking to break that trend.
There have been several second place finishes by Spanish competitors, including Raquel Carriedo in 2002, Ana Belen Sanchez in 2003, Tania Elosegui and Emma Cabrera, who shared second place in 2009 and again by Tania Elosegui in 2011.
There are 17 Spanish players hoping to become the first home winner and Ciganda will be joined by fellow professional golfers Tania Elosegui, Laura Cabanillas, Emma Cabrera, Sara Beautell, Ana Larrañeta, Marina Arruti , Carmen Alonso, Maria Beautell, Mireia Prat, Mariana Macias, Adriana Zwanck, Virginia Espejo, Patricia Lobato as well as three amateurs: Patricia Sanz, Lucia Cortezo and Lara Hernandez.
Scotland’s Carly Booth, who has won two of this year’s LET events in Scotland and Switzerland, is the next highest ranked player in the field after Ciganda at third on the order of merit.
Germany’s Caroline Masson and Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa will also have the chance to top the order of merit, on which they are currently ranked fourth and fifth respectively.
There are also four previous winners of the Open de España Femenino with Melissa Reid, Laura Davies, Becky Brewerton Welsh and Nikki Garrett in the field.
The tournament will officially open with an official welcome reception at the four-star hotel Iberostar Anthelia in Costa Adeje before the Pro Am on Wednesday.
The players are particularly looking forward to playing in the warm and sunny weather after enduring extremely demanding conditions at Hoylake last week.