There are few players who embody the spirit of the Solheim Cup quite like Carlota Ciganda.
A rookie in 2013 as Europe completed a historic triumph by winning on American soil for the first time, the Spaniard took to the biennial transatlantic battle like a duck to water.
She has since been an ever-present member of the European squad, playing a leading role in the 2015 and 2017 editions as she improved her overall record to six points from 11 matches.
But it’s not just her ability to rack up the points that has seen her become a Solheim Cup favourite, with Ciganda known for wearing her heart on her sleeve and her passionate celebrations.
And with Ciganda in good shape to contest her fourth consecutive Solheim Cup in Gleneagles, here’s a look at her impressive impact in the blue and yellow colours of Europe.
FLAWLESS DEBUT BOW
Ciganda was one of six Team Europe rookies when she made her debut in 2013 under captain Liselotte Neumann after earning her place on the plane to Colorado outright.
She had already shown her nerve earlier that season by beating future teammate Charley Hull in a sudden-death play-off to win her third Ladies European Tour title at the German Open.
And while she sat out the opening foursomes, Ciganda made an instant impact in her first taste of the Solheim Cup by winning her afternoon fourballs contest alongside Suzann Pettersen.
The pairing beat Team USA’s Lexi Thompson and Stacy Lewis 1up, before Ciganda made it two from two alongside Azahara Muñoz in the Saturday afternoon fourballs.
Gerina Piller and Angela were the victims this time as Europe moved into a 10.5-5.5 lead, with Ciganda finishing off a perfect weekend with a 4&2 win over Morgan Pressel in the singles.
Her 3-0-0 record across the three days ultimately played a key part as Europe retained the Solheim Cup for the first time and by the largest margin of victory for either team.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
The Spaniard secured her return to the European team for the Solheim Cup in 2015 by finishing the season as one of the top four LET players on the Women’s World Rankings list.
She had to wait until the afternoon fourballs to make her first appearance in Germany, where she was paired with Melissa Reid to take on Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson.
A hard-fought match was halved but Ciganda and Reid took the full point in the Saturday morning foursomes with a dominant 4&3 triumph against Michelle Wie and Alison Lee.
Ciganda returned to action in the afternoon as she joined forces with Muñoz in the fourballs, although she suffered her first Solheim Cup defeat against Kerr and Thompson.
She was then trusted to lead out Europe in Sunday’s singles and repaid the faith shown in her by claiming a half point against familiar foe Thompson after another thrilling encounter.
Despite Ciganda’s best efforts, Europe surrendered their 10-6 lead going into the singles as USA completed the biggest comeback in Solheim Cup history, prevailing 14.5-13.5 overall.
IOWA SINGLES SUCCESS
A formidable season on the LPGA Tour meant Ciganda was Europe’s highest ranked automatic qualifier going into her third Solheim Cup at Des Moines Golf and Country Club.
Ciganda did not enjoy a prosperous Friday, though, losing her morning foursomes match alongside Caroline Masson 1up to the American duo of Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas.
Another defeat followed in the afternoon fourballs, which ended in a comprehensive 6&5 defeat for Ciganda and new partner Emily Kristine Pedersen to Kang and Salas once again.
After a tough Friday for Ciganda and Europe, who trailed 5.5-2.5 going into Saturday, she sat out the morning foursomes before joining Reid for the afternoon fourballs.
Despite a much better performance, she was unable to avoid a third defeat as Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome continued the hosts’ dominance with a 2up win.
But Ciganda showed her never-say-die attitude on Sunday by maintaining her unbeaten singles record with a 4&3 victory against Lincicome as Europe lost 16.5-11.5 overall in Iowa.