ASU's Ciganda Goes For Three-Peat

- Championship Central



By Keyon Johnson



It takes tons of hard work, dedication, focus, skill, knowledge, strength and timing to be a champion. Things have to click at the right time and right place. Winning back-to-back individual championships takes even more. Arizona State University junior golfer Carlota Ciganda has not only earned this accomplishment during her first two seasons at the school, but now she is on the verge of etching her name in the record books by being the first woman to three-peat as Pac-10 Women's Golf Champion and reach legendary status.

 

Ciganda erupted on the scene as a freshman during the 2008-09 season, taking the nation by storm as she helped her team win the NCAA Championship, while also winning the individual Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional Championships. During her sophomore year, she placed third at the Topy Cup early in the season, then second at the Stanford Intercollegiate, and by the time the Pac-10 Championships came around, she was playing at the peak of her game and repeated as the Pac-10 Champion. Can she make it three for three?

 

"It will be hard to win again, but I am just going to go out there and try to play some great golf, do my best for my team and myself," Ciganda said. "I am not thinking about winning the tournament. I am just thinking about going out there, having fun and playing good [golf]."

 

Playing solid golf is something that she has been doing consistently throughout her years in the sport. At the age of 11, she won the Spanish Open (11-12 year old division) in her native Spain. Ciganda then came to Miami, Fla., and placed second at the Doral Junior Publix Classic (10-12 year old division). Her success in those tournaments was  a confidence builder for her, and over the next couple of years she went on to win numerous tournaments throughout the world.

 

Carlota is from Pamplona, Spain (city famous for the Running of the Bulls) where her house was just minutes away from the golf course where she would hone her skills. Ciganda began playing as a five-year-old with her father, who quickly discovered the gift his daughter had to play the game of golf. He recruited the services of Rogelio Escheverria to assist in the development of Carlota's game. Escheverria instructed her until she finished high school and Ciganda made the difficult decision to leave Spain and go to Arizona State.

 

Leaving Spain to go to the United States presented some challenges for Ciganda. First, the language barrier. Then it was a matter of getting accustomed to the way of life in the U.S. Ciganda has adapted to those challenges and made the most of it.

 

"My first semester was a tough adjustment," Ciganda said. "What made it easier was that I had friends here who were Hispanic when I came to the team. I also knew some people on the team, so it wasn't very hard. I did miss Spain and my family, but I am really happy here. After that first semester it wasn't very hard for me."

 

But Ciganda said that there are a few things that she misses.

 

"I miss my family and the food," Ciganda said. "The food in Spain is really good. My mother makes amazing paella, which is a traditional plate of Spain. I also miss my golf coach Rogelio Echeverria. I have been with him for 15 years, so I got accustomed to having that time with him."

 

Ciganda admitted that she does get a little home sick from time to time, but she is happy to be in Arizona and learning new cultures, environments, people and not to forget the perfect conditions to practice golf.

 

"I have met really nice people, the coaches, my teammates and everyone," Ciganda said. "It is really nice to be here. I have no problems with being at Arizona State. I love it here."

 

The Sun Devils have also loved to have Ciganda as well,  as she has brought the school two straight Pac-10 individual titles. She has the unique opportunity to win a third straight title on April 17-19 at her school's home course in Tempe, Ariz.

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