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Ciganda’s heroics lead to Solheim Cup retention for Europe

In one of the last opportunities to represent country and continent in women’s golf prior to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, Europe overcame an early deficit to retain the Solheim Cup with a 14-14 tie against the United States on Sunday. Competing in front of a raucous crowd in her home country, Spaniard Carlota Ciganda claimed the 14th point to clinch a retention for Europe.

“To finish like that,” Ciganda said, “I have no words. It’s a week I’m going to remember forever.”

In her own words, Ciganda hit “a proper shank” at the 15th hole to allow United States superstar Nelly Korda to even the match, a moment that felt like a turning point in the match. But the 33-year-old responded with consecutive approaches inside three feet – first at the 16th and again at the par-3 17th – to slam the door shut on Korda and celebrate in front of her home nation.

Ciganda, who ranks 28th in the women’s Olympic Golf Ranking (OGR) and competed in both the 2016 and 2020 Olympics Games, was joined by a number of Europeans vying to finish inside the top-60 of the OGR and reach the world’s largest sporting stage next summer. Seven other European teammates are currently in position to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games, including top-20 players Celine Boutier (No. 5), Charley Hull (8), Linn Grant (15), Georgia Hall (16) and Leona Maguire (17). While eight are currently in position, the remaining four are just outside the current OGR on the women’s Reallocation Reserve List.

On the American side, four players are currently projected to qualify for Paris, led by No. 2 Lilia Vu and No. 3 Nelly Korda followed by Allisen Corpuz (10) and Megan Khang (14). A limit of four players inside the top 15 of the OGR from a single country are eligible to play in the Games. Once past No. 15 in the OGR (women’s Rolex Rankings), there will be a maximum of two eligible players from each country that doesn’t already have two or more in the top 15.

Europe’s standout individual performers included Spain’s Ciganda (4-0-0), Sweden’s Grant (3-2-0) and Ireland’s Maguire (3-2-0). Khang (3-0-1) and Lexi Thompson (3-1-0), another two-time Olympics participant, led the charge for the United States at Finca Cortesin in Andalucia, Spain.