BELLEAIR — Carlota Ciganda didn’t even know if she could play in the Pelican Women’s Championship.
In the final round of the Toto Japan Classic last weekend, Ciganda rolled her ankle “pretty badly” walking from the 10th green to the 11th tee. The slope was downhill, the path was wet and she slipped.
Ciganda hit some balls Tuesday and felt good enough after a Wednesday pro-am to try and golf. And after two rounds in Belleair, Ciganda, ranked No. 50 in the world, joined Nelly Korda in a tie for fifth place at 8-under 132, just two shots back of leader Allisen Corpuz. Ciganda followed her 6-under 64 in the opening round with 68 on Saturday.
“I (rolled my ankle) a couple years ago so I knew how it felt,” Ciganda said. “I mean, I knew I could play, but I just didn’t want to play with pain for next week.”
The shortened, 54-hole event has also been perfect because of her injury, she said Friday. She thought the one-day delay gave her additional time to recover. But the injury still swells up after rounds, though Ciganda said she doesn’t notice her taped ankle while playing.
“I can walk pretty normal,” Ciganda, a 32-year-old from Pamplona, Spain, said Friday. “Few of the hills I can feel a little bit the outside of the ankle, but, I mean, I think we are athletes.”
Bradenton’s Nelly Korda starts on record-setting pace
The crowd that followed Nelly Korda grew with each hole, and each birdie, Saturday. A dozen people tagged along for the first hole. By the time she teed off at the 10th, dozens of phones angled toward Korda after five birdies on her first nine holes put her on track to break the Pelican Women’s Championship 18-hole record.
But the Bradenton native only managed one more birdie — and two bogeys — on her final nine holes. The Bradenton native was tied with Ciganda for fifth place.
Korda said she was “dialed” in with her pitching wedge early, allowing her to set up birdies for five of the first seven holes. And she managed to avoid adding a stroke on the third hole after her first shot missed the green.
She had the perfect club selection for lengths on the front nine, Korda added, but that changed over the final half of her day.
“Kind of getting sloppy in a sense, I guess,” Korda said. “Just not really hitting the shots that I typically would.”
Seminole’s Brittany Lincicome misses cut
Brittany Lincicome shot 5-over 75 Saturday and missed the cut (even par) after finishing 8 over through 36 holes. The score placed her in a tie for 110th. It was the Seminole native’s first tournament since returning from maternity leave; she had last played on tour in June.