FARMINGTON, Utah — Former Oklahoma State star Kristoffer Ventura defeated Oak Tree National member Joshua Creel on the third playoff hole as players with Oklahoma ties dominated the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank. Ventura carded a final-round, bogey-free 65 before eventually winning with a par on the third extra hole at Oakridge Country Club.
“This is unreal and I’m really happy to be in this position,” Ventura said. “I did everything I could before (the playoff) and I just figured if someone is going to win, I’ll try my best. As long as I do that, I’ll be happy afterwards. Obviously, it turned out to be pretty good.”
In addition to the Ventura and Creel, Oak Tree National member and former Oklahoma Sooner Charlie Saxon of Tulsa tied for third with former OSU golfer Kevin Dougherty and Ryan Brehm at 13-under. Former Oklahoma City University golfer Tyrone Van Aswegan tied for 14th at 9 under.
Ventura began the final round three shots off the lead. The 24-year-old carded birdies on Nos. 1 and 5 to get to 10-under for the week. Despite windy conditions in the afternoon, Ventura kept his momentum going on the back nine. He rallied with birdies on Nos. 12, 13, 15 and 17 to get to 14-under for the championship, earning him a spot in the playoff with Creel.
Both Ventura and Creel made par on the first two playoff holes. On the third extra hole, Creel’s par attempt lipped out, leaving Ventura a 3-footer for par to secure his first Korn Ferry Tour title. With the victory, Ventura earned 500 Korn Ferry Tour Points and moved to No. 17 in The 25.
“Being on the PGA TOUR has always been a dream of mine,” Ventura said after his victory. “I’ve gotten a taste of it. It’s been my goal this whole time. Now I’m a little closer. But next week is a new week and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and trust the process.”
Earlier this season, Ventura made the most of a sponsor’s exemption at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, where he finished T3 in just his third start on the Korn Ferry Tour. Prior to his top-5 at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, Ventura was struggling to earn starts through Monday qualifying.
“A few weeks ago, I got an invite to the BMW Charity Pro-Am and finished in a tie for third there, and after that I was able to plan my schedule and that was the biggest thing for me,” he said. “Before that, I was playing Monday qualifiers and that was pretty tough mentally. To be in this position now, it’s incredible.”
Ventura was a standout at Oklahoma State University before turning professional in 2018. He played alongside teammates Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff, who both have experienced early success on the PGA TOUR. Hovland fired a final-round, 8-under 64 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic to finish T13 on Sunday. Another former Cowboy and OTN member Talor Gooch tied for 17th at 14 under.
Ventura noted that he and his teammates have always been competitive, and that he even received some inspiration from his former college coach Alan Bratton.
“Viktor played really well today, that was exciting to see,” he said. “Coach Bratton told me to get inspired by what Viktor did today and just go out there and have fun. That’s what I did, so I’m happy.”
Creel earned his best finish on the Korn Ferry Tour and second top-10 of the 2019 season. With the solo-second finish, he jumped to No. 27 in The 25 and has secured his place in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
“I’m a little disappointed, but I’ll take the positives from this week,” Creel said. “I think I locked up at least getting into the Finals, so that’s good. I’ve got a job for next year. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, and hopefully my time comes.”