Caroline Masson will make a last-minute attempt to dislodge Carlota Ciganda from the top of the 2012 ISPS Handa Order of Merit when she tees up in the Ladies European Tour’s season-ending Omega Dubai Ladies Masters at Emirates Golf Club, starting on Wednesday.
Masson is the only player who can challenge Ciganda for the prestigious title, which offers a €20,000 bonus and 10 year exemption to the Ladies European Tour.
The second ranked German player is €31,958.80 behind Ciganda on the money ranking and needs at least a top three finish, worth €35,000, to jump ahead of the Spaniard, assuming the latter misses the cut.
It’s a highly unlikely scenario as Ciganda, the leading rookie on tour, is in a rich vein of form having won twice and secured nine further top ten finishes this season, including a tie for fourth at last week’s Hero Women’s Indian Open.
However, Masson is also in form having tied for 11th at LPGA Final Qualifying School over the weekend to earn her full US card for 2013. The 23-year-old from Gladbeck feels confident and hopes to become the first German to top the ranking in the 34-year history of the Ladies European Tour.
“I know I have to play really well to catch Carlota. I know she had a great year. She’s a great player. I knew when she was coming out on Tour that she’s going to play great,” said Masson, the 2012 South African Women’s Open champion. “I had a great year. I’m happy with what I accomplished so far, and if I can pull off a top three this week, you know, I’ll be even more happy, but I don’t think I have a lot of pressure.”
Ciganda has the chance to make an even bigger piece of history by becoming the first player since Laura Davies in 1985 to win both order of merit and rookie of the year titles in the same season.
“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,” said Ciganda, 22, from Pamplona, who won in Holland and China this season. “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.”
First and foremost on both players’ minds will be lifting the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters trophy, worth €75,000, on Saturday, to top off a stellar year.
“It’s been a very good year. It’s easy to travel, living with 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,” said Ciganda.
“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.”
Regarding the ISPS Handa Order of Merit, Masson added: “It would be a great accomplishment, no question, but as I say, Carlota has played well and she deserves to win, as well. I think we are going to have a good battle out there.”
The Omega Dubai Ladies Masters will see 108 players compete over four rounds from Wednesday for a purse of €500,000. The year-ending tournament is being played at Emirates Golf Club for the seventh consecutive year.