Ciganda Wins LPGA Lorena Ochoa Invitational

Carlota Ciganda is a woman on top… of the leaderboard.

The 26-year-old Spanish golfer turned her hot start into a four-under par 68 on Sunday and a two-shot triumph in the LPGA Lorena Ochoa Invitational, her second victory in two months.

Carlota Ciganda

An eagle at the par-five second hole was followed by four birdies with two bogeys as Ciganda built a 13-under par total of 275.

That put her two clear of England’s Jodie Ewart Shadoff, France’s Karine Icher, Australian Sarah Jane Smith and Americans Austin Ernst and Angela Stanford.

Ernst, who took a one-shot lead into the final round in pursuit of a second career crown, carded a one-under par 71.

Smith, a Queenslander seeking her first title, had shared the first-round lead with Ciganda and led outright at the halfway stage. She closed with a two-under 70, while Shadoff seized her slice of second with a 67 and Stanford and Icher both signed for 69s.

Ciganda started the day one stroke behind Ernst. That was nothing like the five-shot deficit she made up in October to capture her first LPGA title in the Korea LPGA Championship in Incheon with a playoff victory over American Alison Lee.

That Pamplona native, a three-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, the third European winner on the LPGA tour this year, following Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Germany’s Caroline Masson.

Ciganda the Leader at the China Suzhou Taihu Open

Carlota Ciganda’s name is listed atop the leader board at the China Suzhou Taihu Open

The 22-year-old Spanish golfer shot a second-round 71 at the tournament at the Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club on Saturday to take a two stroke lead into the final round.

Carlota Ciganda

Ciganda, a Ladies European Tour rookie, began the day one stroke clear of the field at seven under par but was caught by early Germany’s Caroline Masson, who fired a 69, before she had even started her second round.

Playing in wind and fog, Ciganda quickly moved two clear of her rival with birdies on the fourth and fifth holes. She dropped shots at 11 and 12 before recovering with birdies on 16 and 18 to end nine under and two clear of Masson.

Ciganda currently holds a slim lead over Masson on the Ladies European Tour’s ISPS Handa Order of Merit for 2012 and the first prize cheque of €52 500 could make all the difference, setting up an exciting final round battle between two of the tour’s most talented players.

“I’m confident and I’m playing good but its golf and anything can happen in one hole, one shot,” said Ciganda, who earned her first tour victory at the Deloitte Ladies Open in June. “Caroline Masson is second and she has been playing great golf this year so I know it’s not going to be easy and then there is another at six under: you need to be ready for anything. I will try to play my best.”

Ciganda has effectively already qualified for the tour after strong performances in the Evian Masters, US Open and British Open, which means that she will be able to play in the Hero Women’s Indian Open, which Masson is missing, giving the Spaniard a better chance to win the order of merit.