CHEYENNE – Joshua Creel is within shouting distance of achieving his childhood dream of playing on the PGA Tour.
The 2008 Cheyenne Central graduate currently ranks 29th in the Korn Ferry Tour’s season points standings. Players ranked in the top 25 before the final four playoff events start Aug. 23 earn their PGA Tour cards for 2020.
Creel has 521 points entering this week’s TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes in Berthoud, Colorado. He estimates he’ll need at least 300 more to assure himself of a spot on professional golf’s top circuit next year.
“I’m as close as I have ever been; I just need to keep stringing some good golf together,” Creel said.
This is Creel’s first season on the Korn Ferry Tour. The circuit formerly known as the Web.com Tour is the top rung on the ladder to the PGA Tour.
Creel played the best golf he has since joining the Korn Ferry Tour at the Utah Championship on June 30 in Farmington, Utah.
The 29-year-old carded a four-round score of 14-under-par 270 to force a sudden-death playoff with Kristoffer Ventura. Ventura took the title on the third playoff hole when he followed Creel’s bogey on Hole No. 10 at Oakridge Country Club with a par.
The difference between Creel’s finish in Utah and his finishes elsewhere was simple, he said.
“I was making putts,” Creel said. “That’s what every
tournament typically comes down to for me. For the most part, I don’t hit it way off line. If I can get the putter hot, I usually put
myself in pretty good positions.”
Struggles with the flat stick cost Creel earlier this season.
“My eyes got too far over the golf ball,” he said. “When I was looking at the hole, I wasn’t actually seeing where the putt was starting. I was seeing it on a different line, and I was struggling to get it started on the right line.
“If you don’t hit it on line, you don’t stand a chance. I’ve got them back where I want them, and I’m putting good.”
The runner-up effort in Utah was Creel’s second top-10 finish this season. It catapulted him to 27th on the points list, and guaranteed him a berth in this year’s Korn Ferry Tour Finals. He also is assured of a spot on the tour next season.
Even if Creel finishes outside the Korn Ferry’s regular-season top 25, he could still earn a spot on the PGA Tour next year. The No. 126-200-ranked players on the PGA Tour are dropped down to the Korn Ferry circuit for the final four events. The 25 players who earn the most money in the Korn Ferry Tour will get PGA invites.
This is Creel’s eighth year playing professionally since winning the individual title at the 2012 NCAA Division II tournament as a senior at the University of Central Oklahoma. He started out on the PGA Tour Canada before returning to America and playing on the All Pro Tour, which has events in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.
Creel finished atop the APT’s money list last year, and earned his shot on the Korn Ferry Tour by placing 37th at its qualifying school last December. Creel’s qualifying school finish gave him a spot in the first eight Korn Ferry events of this season. He has stayed on the circuit through its reshuffle system, which randomly draws players back into tournaments.
Creel also got a taste of the PGA Tour when he earned a spot in the 2018 Texas Open by winning a Monday qualifying tournament. He was seventh after the first round, and finished 64th at that event.
The only difference between the Korn Ferry Tour and APT is the margin for error, Creel said.
“Anywhere you go nowadays, you have to play really good golf and drop your ball,” he said. “The fields are just deeper on the Korn Ferry Tour. Two shots either way might move you 40 spots. There’s not a lot of room to make mistakes.”
Creel spends nearly eight hours per day practicing golf. He typically starts out by hitting shots from a practice bunker before moving on to chipping and putting. He eventually works his way to the driving range.
Those efforts are why Creel chuckles whenever playing partners in pro-am groups ask him what else he does to earn a living.
“Not everyone understands that this is my job,” he said. “You can’t half-ass this and expect to get where you want to go. The crazy thing about playing golf at this level is that one great week, or one or two really good weeks, can change your life.
“You have to be prepared for that. You have to stay ready.”