Finland golfer wins Ann Arbor's first Epson Tour stop; UM's Ashley Lau finishes third

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Entering this week, Kiira Riihijarvi had made a little over $10,000 on the Epson Tour.

Over the last three days, she made nearly triple, cashing a $30,000 first-place check for winning the inaugural Ann Arbor's Road to the LPGA at Travis Pointe Country Club on Saturday afternoon.

Riihijarvi, from Finland, shot a 3-under 69 to finish the 54-hole tournament at 10 over, for a two-shot win over second-round leader Pavarisa Yoktuan of Thailand. Yoktuan closed with a 1-over 73.

Kiira Riihijarvi won the inaugural Epson Tour tournament in Ann Arbor on Saturday.

“I’m feeling great,” said Riihijarvi, 25, who played at the University of Tampa. “I feel odd. I don’t think it’s processed quite yet, but I’m happy.”

After bogeying her second hole, Riihijarvi quickly turned things around with birdies on three of her next four holes. She birdied No. 10 to get to 10 under, and played steady par golf the rest of the way to lift the trophy, after missing her last two cuts.

She took a week off from competition before coming to Ann Arbor, choosing instead to focus on practice.

The practice paid off as she made a big first step toward earning her LPGA card.

Four shots off the pace and finishing in third place was Michigan golfer Ashley Lau, an amateur because she's still in college. She closed with a 4-under 68.

This was Lau's first professional tournament.

“I just told my sister that I wanted to have fun this week and get the experience of playing with professionals,” said Lau, 22. “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.”

Finishing inside the top 10, in a tie for eighth, was Saline's Sarah Hoffman, 32, who was at 3 under after a 70. Hoffman had said coming into the week that this might be her last Epson Tour tournament. Hoffman, who played at Grand Valley State, transitioned to a career in nursing, around the start of the pandemic.

She tied for eighth with Gabriela Ruffels, who aced the par-3 12th. That was one of two holes-in-one Sunday, as Malene Krolboll Hansen (tied for 20th) jarred it on the par-3 third.

The Epson Tour will return to Travis Pointe for at least one more year. The Epson Tour shifts to Harris, Michigan, next week, and will be in Battle Creek in late July.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984