Carlota Ciganda

Carlota Ciganda will be aiming for a crack at the long-standing record of Laura Davies when she competes in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters to be held under the patronage of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, from December 5 to 8.

The 22-year-old Spanish prodigy needs a strong finish, if not victory, to follow in footsteps of Davies, the only player to have won the Ladies European Tour’s Order of Merit and Rookie of the Year titles in the same year back in 1985.

With just two events remaining to be played, Ciganda currently leads the Tour’s ISPS Handa Order of Merit with euro 232,656 (Dh 1.08 million) in earnings, but has Germany’s Caroline Masson (euro 210, 831) hot on her heels as the battle for the ‘Player of the Year’ enters final stretch at the Emirates Golf Club.

Masson will not be competing in the Hero Women’s Indian Open, the penultimate event on the tour, because of her LPGA Q-School engagements, and her absence could well work in favour of Ciganda, but still it will not guarantee her the Order of Merit title since the Omega Dubai Ladies offers a huge purse of euro 75,000 to the winner.

“For me it’s good that Caroline is not playing in India, but there is still Dubai and a lot of money, so if I don’t play well and she plays well, she can beat me easily,” said Ciganda, who is enjoying an outstanding rookie season with wins in the Netherlands and China.

“It would be nice to wrap up the season with a grand double, but still there is everything to play for. I am really looking forward to playing in Dubai,” said Ciganda, who also leads the Ladies European Tour stats for lowest stroke average with 70.5 as well as greens in regulation (79.7%) and total birdies (181), assuring her the Rookie of the Year title.

The highly-rated Ciganda will have her work cut out with the likes of defending champion Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie, Shanshan Feng and Christina Kim from the LPGA Tour joining the star-studded field in the season-ending event.

“With so much at stake coming down the line for frontrunners, we can expect a great finish to the tournament,” said Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, the promoters and organizers of the euro 500,000 event.

“Women’s professional golf has become quite competitive with many young players enjoying early success on the tour. This surprise element has further spiked interest in the game.

“It will be interesting to see what new storylines emerge from the tournament which, like in previous years, is bolstered by the presence of LPGA stars. If we have again managed to assemble a top class field, it’s all down to the enthusiastic support of the players,” he added.

golf in DUBAi’ is backed by Omega as the title sponsor and Dubal (Dubai Aluminium) as the sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Drydocks World & Maritime World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, Mercedes-Benz and wasl while Dubai Duty Free, Carpetland and Motivate are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi’s drive to showcase the emirate’s vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.