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Carlota Ciganda starts strong at Open, defends slow play

Carlota Ciganda’s pace of play is sure to come under scrutiny after a strong opening round Thursday at the AIG Women’s Open.

Ciganda is making her first start since she was disqualified two weeks ago at the Evian Championship, where she declined to accept a two-shot penalty for slow play. She signed for a 72 instead of a 74 and then departed the scoring area, leading to her immediate disqualification. Afterward, she posted on Instagram that the rules officials “don’t understand what professional golf is about” and claimed that they single her out more than other players.

Ciganda opened with a 2-under 70 at Walton Heath in the first round of the final women’s major of the year. Predictably, most of the questions afterward focused on her pace of play, particularly after European Solheim Cup captain Suzann Pettersen told Ciganda to take note of the increased attention and “speed up.”

Full-field scores from the AIG Women’s Open

“At the end of the day, I’m here to play golf and I’m trying to do my best,” Ciganda told reporters after the round. “I think I am a nice person and I respect everyone when I play, so I just hope they can do the same with me. Some players, they play quicker, and some players, they are slower.

“Of course I can play quicker, but a lot of them, they can be quicker too. I don’t want to put too much focus [on it]. I just play golf and I love what I do, and that’s it.”

Ciganda didn’t play last week at the Scottish Open, but the Spaniard said that she and her caddie practiced a faster routine on the greens.

“I think we were fine today; we’ve been waiting a few holes on the group in front, so I think we did a good job,” Ciganda said. “You have to understand that it’s professional golf and we are playing for a living, and sometimes majors if you hit it in the rough or a bad situation, it’s going to take longer. If you make a bogey, it’s just a couple more minutes, so I think they should understand that a bit more.”

This wasn’t the first time that Ciganda had been penalized in LPGA competition, but it did draw the most attention – especially after she posted her defense on social media. Earlier this week, world No. 1 Nelly Korda said that “the Rules of Golf are the Rules of Golf, and they should be enforced and it’s good that they are.”

Pettersen, meanwhile, said she spoke with Ciganda earlier this week.

“I said that ‘if they are on you, get the point, try and speed up, and do what you can do,’” Pettersen said, according to the Scotsman. “In some situations, I know it’s tough. You are going to get conditions on the course and situations that will cost more time. But in general, for everyone’s sake, try and speed up.”