It was a storybook ending: one Hollywood couldn’t have written any better. Carlota Ciganda, 1 up on Nelly Korda with a two-foot birdie putt on 17, a putt that would win the match and keep the Solheim Cup in Europe, a putt that had hundreds of Spaniards on the edge of their seats, a putt that only had one outcome.
Ciganda erupted when the putt dropped and Captain Suzann Pettersen leapt up, racing out to hug the Spaniard with the crowd singing Ciganda’s name to the tune of “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes and cries of “Olé, Olé, Olé,” breaking out.
It was an incredible moment for Spanish golf, one that will be lore among European golf fans for years to come. It’s also something that Ciganda would have never dreamt of when she was a young girl. But it was a perfect exclamation point on her 4-0-0 performance in her sixth career Solheim Cup.
“It’s amazing, all the support from my family, friends. I have a lot of people here. To play in Spain is always special. To play a Solheim Cup has been just an unbelievable week,” she said. “I love the captain, I love Suzann, and I just really wanted to play good for her. I'm very happy to win the four points in Spain in front of the home crowd. The Americans, they played amazing as well, so congrats to both teams.”
Carrrrrlota Cigaaaaaandaaaa 🎶🇪🇸 pic.twitter.com/MXWdkxU4Cy— LPGA (@LPGA) September 24, 2023
But Ciganda certainly didn’t do it alone.
Leona Maguire put the first point on the board for Europe, defeating rookie Rose Zhang 4 and 3 in the record never trailing after she tied the match on the second hole. The highlight of the match was the Irishwoman’s eagle on the drivable par-4 14th hole that saw her bury a lengthy birdie putt from the back half of the green to go 4 up on the rookie, closing her out with a tie on 15 to give the Euros the first point of the afternoon.
Megan Khang then came up clutch in the first match of the day, defeating Linn Grant 1 up on the final hole at Finca Cortesin to hand the Americans a point and tie things once again at 9-9. Danielle Kang also won her match against England’s Charley Hull 4 and 2 to move the Americans two ahead with 10 total points, and Anna Nordqvist answered, beating Jennifer Kupcho 2 and 1 to tie things up once again.
Andrea Lee and Georgia Hall tied their match to give the Americans a slight advantage, one that Lilia Vu and Angel Yin added two points to after Vu trounced Madelene Sagstrom 4 and 3, and Yin came back from 2 down to win her match over Celine Boutier 2 and 1. Rookie Cheyenne Knight had the comeback of the day for the Americans, turning a 3-down deficit into a tie with Gemma Dryburgh to go undefeated in her very first Solheim Cup, giving the U.S. a half point to move to 13 points overall and three ahead of Europe.
Captain’s pick Caroline Hedwall was the catalyst to the European charge from three behind. She was 3 down to Ally Ewing on 12 and battled back to a tie with birdies on 13, 14 and 16. She flipped the match with an electric bridie putt on 17, taking a 1-up lead to the 18th hole. She won the last after finding the green in two to defeat Ewing 2 up and put another blue point on the board.
A pair of rookies went head-to-head in Match 26 and Maja Stark earned Europe their 13th point with a 2&1 win over Allisen Corpuz, leaving two matches on the course that would ultimately decide the Solheim Cup – Nelly Korda vs. Carlota Ciganda and Lexi Thompson vs. Emily Kristine Pedersen.
After trailing from holes 2 to 14, Korda finally tied things up on 15 after a wayward approach shot from Ciganda. But the Spaniard birdied 16 to move to 1 ahead with two to play, and after she stuffed her tee shot on 17 to two feet and Korda missed the green, it was Europe’s to win. Ciganda’s birdie gave the Europeans their 14th point, all that was needed for a retention, with Thompson defeating Pedersen 2 and 1 to make the result of the 18th Solheim Cup a 14-14 tie.
“Does it get any better than this? This is a dream come true,” said Pettersen. “We had a massive challenge ahead of us today. We've created history yet again in the Solheim Cup, and these girls are legends.”
While they don’t get to bring the Solheim Cup to the United States this time, Captain Stacy Lewis and the entire American team were incredibly proud of what they accomplished this week in Andalucia, Spain and are fired up for next year’s Solheim Cup at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.
“What a moment for Carlota and women's golf,” said Lewis. “Such a cool finish there. My team played their hearts out. Just so proud of 'em, the way they fought. We played the back nine better all week, and they just hung in there and hung in there with every match. I just told 'em, we didn't lose. It was a tie and there was so much to build off this week. I think these rookies learned a lot and that's what it's about.”