Creel captures Utah Championship, moves up to 32nd on Korn Ferry Tour points list

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FARMINGTON, Utah (Aug. 8) – Edmond’s Joshua Creel made up for an agonizing loss at the Utah Championship two years ago with a clutch Sunday performance that carried the former Central Oklahoma star to his first-ever win on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Creel – who tied for first before losing in a playoff in this tournament two years ago — fired a closing seven-under-par 64 at the 7,045-yard, par-71 Oakridge County Club to finish with a sizzling 24-under 260 total.

He was one shot behind the co-leaders entering the final round and ended up winning by two in capturing the title, earning $108,000 in the process.

A two-time All-American and the 2012 NCAA Division II national champion for the Bronchos, Creel had rounds of 63-68-65-64. He made 27 birdies and one eagle against just four bogeys during the tournament and hit 64 of 72 greens in regulation.

Creel stared down a 30-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole. Two years ago, Creel had an 8-footer for birdie to win a sudden-death playoff on the same hole, the par-4 18th at Oakridge Country Club. Creel lipped out the putt, lost the playoff two holes later, and the difference in points between first and second place eventually cost him a PGA TOUR card. Earlier this week, Creel said he thought about the putt every day.

There would be no playoff this time around. Instead, a wrong would be righted. And a new memory would finally wash away Creel’s heartbreak from the 2019 Utah Championship.

Creel drained the 30-footer, pumped both his fists in the air, and yelled toward his caddie as he took a two-stroke lead on the field. The bomb of a birdie putt clinched Creel’s first career Korn Ferry Tour victory. It also moved Creel within striking distance of a PGA TOUR card ahead of the final event of the 2020-21 regular season, which is next week in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I’m pumped,” Creel said. “It was pretty disappointing to lose in a playoff (in 2019). That feeling walking from the green back up to the tee after losing is a feeling you don’t want ever. I was determined to not feel that way again.”

Creel’s birdie capped a bogey-free 7-under 64. The Cheyenne, Wyoming native made birdies at Nos. 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 18, with those at the par-5 seventh and 15th being of the two-putt variety. Creel finished the week at 24-under par, two strokes clear of 54-hole co-leaders Taylor Montgomery and Peter Uihlein, as well as Hayden Buckley, who tied the course record with a final-round 10-under 61.

Brenda Creel, Joshua’s mother, flew in Friday night. The two had breakfast at Cracker Barrel Saturday and Sunday. Once the scores were finalized, they posed for photo after photo together, with Brenda making video calls to family and friends back home.

“I’m glad she was out here to watch me get my first Korn Ferry Tour win,” Creel said.

The victory was a long time coming for Creel and his family. Creel turned professional in 2012 following a four-year collegiate career split between University of Colorado (two seasons) and University of Central Oklahoma (two seasons). Creel was a two-time All-American for Central Oklahoma and won the individual national title at the 2012 NCAA Division II Championships. From the time he turned professional through the end of 2018, though, Creel bounced between the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, the Korn Ferry Tour, and mini-tours.

After Creel won three times on the All Pro Tour and was named its 2018 player of the year, he finished T34 at the 2018 Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament’s Final Stage, earning him status for the 2019 season. Creel finished 29th in the 2019 regular season points standings. Had Creel won the playoff at the 2019 Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank, he would have finished 20th.

Sunday’s victory takes Creel from 64th to 32nd in the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour points standings, giving him a chance to finish in the top 25 and earn a PGA TOUR card with a second consecutive podium finish. Creel said earlier in the week he planned to skip the regular season finale if he finished anything other than first or second this week.

Now Creel will head home to Oklahoma City and spend a day with his pregnant wife (they are due in January 2022), then hop in his truck and make the 6.5-hour drive to Omaha.

“I’m sure I have to finish first or second there as well to sneak into that top 25, but you never know,” Creel said. “I’m playing good golf. We will see what happens.”

Entering next week’s regular season finale, the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aetna, players ranked 21st through 27th in the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour points standings are separated by 93 points, and players ranked 24th through 27th are separated by a mere 18 points.

With the win, players with Oklahoma ties have now won three of the past four events on the Korn Ferry Tour, with former Tulsan Tag Ridings winning the TPC Colorado Championship and Taylor Moore of Edmond winning the Memorial Health Championship. Moore was also second in the Price Cutter Charity Championship. He and Max McGreevy of Edmond have earned their PGA Tour cards for 2021-22 as they have enough points that they cannot fall out of the top 25.

With Abraham Ancer winning his first event on the PGA Tour, it also marked a sweep for players with Oklahoma ties winning on both tours the same day.


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Ken MacLeod

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