Opening day at Niitvälja Karikas – last year’s winner Tyko Tuohimaa in the lead

The oldest golf tournament in the Baltic States, Niitvälja Karikas, was played for the 29th time last weekend. The three-day tournament hosted 105 players from seven countries and included women’s, men’s and men’s mid-amateur classes. The best three pros were awarded with money, best amateur and mid-amateur men with special prizes. The competition’s high level was underlined by the fact that nearly one third of the players had a handicap less than 1.

The opening day’s best result, 5 birdies and 70 strokes (-2) belonged to last year’s winner Tyko Tuohimaa (Pickala Golf Club). Niitvälja’s star player Carl Hellat was only one stroke behind with 71 strokes (-1). Carl played the last four holes with -4 and made an eagle on the 15th. Men’s third place was divided by Mattias Varjun (Niitvälja Golf) as well as pro players Mark Suursalu (Niitvälja Golf) and Egert Põldma (Estonian Golf & Country Club), all with 73 strokes (+1).

This year, pro and amateur men played together for the first time, and the best three pros became a monetary prize (4 000 euros in total). After the first day, the pros’ number three was Toffe Jusslin (Pickala Golf Club), who was only one stroke behind (74 strokes, +2) from Mark Suursalu and Egert Põldma. Last year’s pro winner Sander Aadusaare (Niitvälja Golf) was back after a long pause caused by an injury, playing 77 strokes (+5).

Women’s leader after the first day was Niitvälja Golf Club’s 2020 champion Liis Kuuli, who made an eagle on the 3rd hole and scored 74 strokes (+2). Number two was Elizaveta Sofia Reemet (Estonian Golf & Country Club) with 78 strokes (+5). The third place was divided by two earlier winners – last year’s winner Annika Koitmaa (Niitvälja Golf) and Anete Liis Adul (Estonian Golf & Country Club) from the year before, both with 78 strokes (+6). This year, there were not enough players for senior women’s class, but Niitvälja Golf’s senior player Ulvi Ingver entered the women’s class without hesitation.

Senior men played strongly on the opening day. Benno Maaring (Otepää Golfiklubi) took the lead by making four birdies on the first half, ending the day with 73 strokes (+1). Raivo Velsberg (Reval Golf Club) was two strokes behind with 75 strokes (+3). Jan Larsson (Estonian Golf & Country Club) and Jukka Pajunen (Golf Pirkkala) were third, both with 77 strokes (+5). Senior men’s last year’s winner Enn Pääro was ninth after the opening day (+10).

The best mid-amateur was also awarded this year. After the first day, the most likely candidates were Niitvälja Golf Club’s capten Joel Rothberg (77 strokes, +5) and Niitvälja Golf’s player Marten Palm (78 strokes, +6).

Niitvälja Karikas, the oldest golf tournament in the Baltic States, was played as a 54-hole stroke play on July 2–4, 2021 on Niitvälja Golf’s Park Course, the home of Estonian golf. The competition offers R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking points for those playing in men’s, women’s and senior men’s classes.

The tournament was supported by LaSpa, Orkla Eesti, Saku Õlletehas and Selver.