LPGA Rookie Kiira Riihijärvi Joins Mission Inn Resort and Club as Player Ambassador
HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, FL – Mission Inn Resort & Club, located in Central Florida and home to championship golf courses El Campeón and Las Colinas, has introduced LPGA Tour rookie Kiira Riihijärvi as a player ambassador.
In her new role, Riihijärvi will represent the resort and brand as she navigates her first full season at the highest level of women’s professional golf.
Mission Inn Resort and Club, an MMI Hotel Group property, will host the Epson Tour’s Inova Championship, May 26-28, 2023 for the fourth consecutive year – a prime example of its commitment to women’s golf.
“We’ve had the privilege of following Kiira’s rise to the LPGA Tour as a past participant in our event,” said Cindy Staley, General Manager. “We value our partnerships with others who share a vision to grow the game and believe Kiira will represent that sentiment as she continues her LPGA debut season.”
Riihijärvi will feature the Mission Inn Resort and Club logo on the front of her golf bag and says she has fond memories of her time spent at the resort to play and practice.
“Everything about the place is top quality – from their team to the courses to the practice facilities, said Riihijärvi. “I’ll proudly be wearing the resort’s logo on my bag for the 2023 season, and I look forward to returning for a visit soon.”
A rising star in women’s golf, Riihijärvi, was first exposed to golf at the age of nine after participating in a children’s beginners’ course at the Virpiniemi Golf Club in Oulu, Finland – her native country.
Early last December, Mission Inn Resort & Club was sold to MMI Hotel Group, a family operation which is based in Mississippi. The Florida resort is only a 35-minute drive northwest of Orlando.
Mission Inn’s two championship golf courses are wonderfully complementary. The El Campeón (The Champion) layout, built in 1917 by George O’Neil, is one of the oldest courses in the South with a classic design featuring unusually sharp elevation changes in the typically flat central Florida terrain. It has hosted multiple high school, college, and state professional tournaments.
In contrast, Las Colinas (The Hills) was created in 1992 by former PGA Tour winner Gary Koch, and it lives up to its name with wide fairways rolling over gentle rises. Both courses at Mission Inn feature undulating greens surrounded by tropical vegetation and incorporate large water hazards on many holes.
Mission Inn Resort & Club has distinct Spanish Colonial architecture and offers 176 hotel guest rooms, 131 deluxe rooms, 38 club suites, four one-bedroom suites, two two-bedroom suites, and one penthouse suite with three bedrooms.
In addition to the two championship golf courses, the resort also features four restaurants, two lounges, and a poolside bar. Its recreational amenities include tennis, pickleball, jogging and bicycling trails, volleyball courts, an outdoor pool, a spa, a fitness center, and a marina offering pontoons, bass boat and kayaks for eco-touring. More than 30,000 square feet of well-appointed indoor and outdoor event space is available for meetings, banquets, holiday parties, weddings, and special occasions.
“Our partnership with Kiira comes amid a flurry of exciting enhancements across our resort,” added Staley. “She’s an incredibly talented player, has called Central Florida home for years and shares our core values and love of the region.”
Riihijärvi would make history in 2021 as the first Finnish female golfer to ever play in the legendary Augusta National Women’s Amateur. During her collegiate career at the University of Tampa, Riihijärvi was the team captain and accomplished 13 individual wins. She was a five-time All-American, two-time NCAA D2 Player of the Year, and two-time Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year.
Later that year, Riihijärvi turned pro at the Gant Ladies Open in Finland; she would then play a full season on the Epson Tour, earning six top-ten finishes in 2022, including her first professional victory at Ann Arbor’s Road to the LPGA. She finished 4th in last year’s Epson Tour rankings to earn her LPGA Tour card.
The Epson Tour is the official qualifying tour of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), and its mission is to prepare the world’s best female professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour. Mission Inn is more than happy to play a supporting role.
“We’re a golf resort, and golf is critical to our success and always will be,” said Dominic Buompastore, Vice President of Operations at MMI Hotel Group. “These (Epson Tour players) are the future of professional golf.”