Kiira Riihijarvi was crowned champion of the inaugural Ann Arbor’s Road to the LPGA Powered by the A2 Sports Commission. The Finn secured her first career victory at -10 after defeating first- and second-round leader Pavarisa Yoktuan. Riihijarvi won by two strokes.
“I’m feeling great,” said Riihijarvi. “I feel odd. I don’t think it’s processed quite yet, but I’m happy.”
Riihijarvi carded four birdies and went bogey-free on the back nine to sign for a 3-under 69. The leaderboard changed throughout the final round, but one thing remained steady – Riihijavari in the top spot.
“I had a good caddie this week, and we talked about a lot of stuff so that was keeping me calm,” said Riihijarvi. “I was really trying to focus on taking it one shot at a time and just doing my best because that’s all I could really do.”
So far in 2022, the Finn has made five cuts in nine starts. She missed the cut at her last two appearances, the IOA Golf Classic presented by LPT Realty and the Inova Mission Inn Resort & Club Championship. This win puts her back on track heading into the second half of the season.
“I think there were some mental blocks I had to work through,” said Riihijarvi. “I missed both of the cuts in Florida, and I was just working through it, so I decided to take a week off and practice a little bit and get a little bit of a better mindset about golf and it seemed to work out for me.”
She started feeling the pressure with two holes left but kept her eyes on the prize. Riihijarvi says there wasn’t a point in her round where she felt like she had it in the bag.
“I started to feel my heart race on 17,” said Riihijarvi. “I was like oh that’s not good, but I just try to keep at it and focus on one shot at a time.”
Two strokes behind Riihijarvi, in second place, is Pavarisa Yoktuan. The first- and second-round leader held steady on the front nine, even par through seven holes, before making bogeys on 8, 9 and 11. But she finished her round with a birdie on No. 18.
In third, two strokes behind Yoktuan and four strokes behind Riihijarvi, is amateur Ashley Lau. The University of Michigan golfer recorded five birdies to go 4-under par on the day. Lau came into her first professional tournament with no expectations and is happy with the outcome.
“I just told my sister that I wanted to have fun this week and get the experience of playing with professionals,” said Lau. “I’ve learned so much this week just by playing in such a big tournament and playing with the professionals, I’ve learned a lot from them. It’s been an amazing experience, and I would love to do it again.”
Klara Spilkova, Linnea Strom and Grace Kim shared fourth place at -5. Spilkova climbed up the leaderboard during her final 18 holes, moving from T11 to the top 5. She recorded five birdies on the day. This finish marks Strom’s third top-20 performance and Kim’s fourth of the 2022 season.
Malene Krolboll Hansen (E, T20) on her hole in one on No. 3:
“I was a little nervous getting out there today. We got up there, and suddenly I was afraid I was over the green. I kept reminding myself Lucy’s mom clapped, so it’s okay and it was a good shot. It was so cool, and nobody really saw it, so everyone started clapping and it was a party.”
Gabriela Ruffels (-3, T8) on her hole in one on No. 12:
“It was really cool. It was my third hole in one and the first one I could actually see, so that was cool. I wasn’t having a great day, I was even for the day, and I wanted something to happen so that was pretty good and it got my round going.”
Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras (-4, 7th) on back-to-back top-15 finishes:
“I haven’t been playing really well, but these past two weeks have given me a lot of confidence. I’m ready for next week.”