Ciganda's bold move on 18 sparks women's golf headed into NCAA third round
The 10th-ranked Arizona State women’s golf team, weathering swirling winds in the upwards of 25 mph, is tied for 11th after the second round of the 2011 NCAA women’s golf Championships in College Station, Texas. The Sun Devils shot a two-day total of 23-over 599, 15 strokes off first-place UCLA.
In a day that saw most teams affected by the overcast, blustery conditions, the Sun Devils were looking for a drive to spark momentum headed into the second half of championship play. That moment, better late than never, came on the final hole in the final round for Arizona State Thursday by way of junior All-American Carlota Ciganda.
On the par-5, 18th hole, Ciganda decided to grab her driver, a club she had rarely used in the round, and belts the ball down the fairway, at least 15 yards in front of her competitors. In a bold move, which could set the tone for the subsequent rounds, Ciganda once again grabbed the driver and laid the ball within 5 feet of the hole. With other competitors using three shots to hit the green, Ciganda made her two shots look effortless.
Laughing while she recounts the story, the move even shocked head coach Melissa Luellen.
“Carlota hits driver, driver on the last hole for a two-putt birdie,” said Luellen with a smile. “That was key right there to me. She leaves the course with a good feeling. She found the determined golf swing she needs to make and that’s big for her. That was the mojo we needed to go into tomorrow.”
Ciganda leads the Sun Devils for the tournament at 1-over 145 (72-73) after two days. Competing at the Traditions Course at the beginning of the season in the Fall Preview, Ciganda tied her career-low with a 66 in the third round of play.
The junior’s surge of energy will look to inspire the Sun Devils heading into the second half of Championship play.
“To finish the last three holes even par or better is a very important thing in team competition because we were kind of struggling,” said Luellen. “To know that we finished strong, and they were mature enough not to freak out is positive.”
The weather will play a major factor for the continuation of the NCAA Championships, as the forecast for the final two rounds project a high probability of lightening and thunderstorms.
“Looking at the scoreboard, a lot of good teams are struggling on this golf course. It is a great championship challenge. Hopefully this will be our worst day.”
The third and fourth rounds of the 2011 NCAA Championships will be livecast on the NCAA website in addition to live scoring.