Josh Creel
Professional Golfer

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Here is my first television appearance on Canadian television:

Creel celebrates Canada Day

 By Darren Zary, The StarPhoenix July 2, 2013

Joshua Creel is making his very first trek onto PGA Tour Canada soil this summer, but you wouldn't have known it Monday.

The 23-year-old youngster from Cheyenne, Wyo., looked more like a seasoned pro as he put the "Oh, Canada" in Canada Day by going 9-deep after sinking six consecutive birdie putts at the Willows Golf and Country Club.

Creel made birdies from holes No. 9 to 14 to finish as the low Monday qualifier for this week's Dakota Dunes Open with a sizzling-hot 63.

"I had it going - with a 63, I think I'm pretty safe," Creel said with a chuckle after easily placing among the 10 qualifier in a field of 67 competitors.

By doing so, Creel matched the competition course record of 63 at The Willows previously set by Scott Thompson at the 2010 Saskatchewan Amateur.

"The golf course is in good shape," said Creel, who turned pro a year ago. "The greens are great. I kept it in the fairway and didn't get into too much trouble."

Creel attended the University of Central Oklahoma, where he captured an NCAA Div. II national individual championship in 2012.

Up until now, he played state opens and mini-tours "but this," he said, "is my first legitimate tour."

He has conditional status on the PGA Tour Canada and the Dakota Dunes Open, which begins Thursday, will be his first event.

Derek Berg, from Kenmore, Wash., qualified with a 64. New Hampshire's Mark Baldwin, Brett McNallie of Drayton Valley, Alta., Robert Kalinowski of Phoenix, Ariz., and Nick Travers of Cave Creek, Ariz., all turned in 66s to also qualify.

Calgary's Scott Stiles got in this week's tournament with a 67.

He didn't make a bogey until the last hole.

"I was in play all day," said Stiles. "That was the first green I missed all day."

Travers, 29, played his college golf at Boise State along with Saskatchewan's Graham DeLaet.

Travers was encouraged to come up and play in the Dakota event. On Monday, he had Saskatoon's Jeff (Jockey) Will - both his and De-Laet's friend - on the bag.

"He knows what's going on out here," Travers said of Will, "so he's a huge help."

A total of seven golfers shot a 4-under 68 and were left battling it out in a playoff for three spots.

Lloydminster's Clint Schiller, Winnipeg's Matt Johnston and Conrad James Shindler of Texas emerged from the playoff to qualify. Shindler did so with a collection of borrowed clubs from The Willows, many of them from an assistant pro as well as demo wedge and a putter from the pro shop rack.

Bentley Nakasawa of Yuma, Ariz., Mike Grob of Billings, Mont., Jesse Speirs of Memphis, Tenn., and Jonathon Krick of Scottsdale were not so lucky with their own clubs.

Nakasawa played in Monday's first group. His 68 looked promising after flying into Saskatoon late Sunday night.

"I didn't know if I had to (qualify) Monday or not," he said. "I played fine out there."

Nakasawa turned pro three years ago after attending Grand Canyon University. He had been playing mini-tours in the Phoenix area, including the Gateway Tour and Pepsi Tour. He finished 21st in the PGA Tour Canada spring school.

Like so many others, he finds the new-look PGA Tour Canada appealing with Web. com Tour cards up for grabs.

"It's a stepping stone for all of us," said Nakasawa, 26.

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 8:00 am

CHEYENNE – Central graduate Josh Creel

Josh Creel wants to play golf for a living.

The 2007 Cheyenne Central graduate took his first step toward achieving that goal last weekend.

Creel finished tied for 24th at the PGA Tour Canada Qualifying School Tournament at the Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon in Beaumont, Calif. That earned Creel his playing card for that tour starting in early June.

Creel shot a final-round score of 3-under-par 69 to finish 2 under for the tournament. The top 40 players earned their cards.

“I thought if I could shoot 4 under for the day, I would probably get in,” Creel said. “I ended up having three three-putts in the final round, but it ended up being good enough.”

The last of those three-putts came on the final hole, which Creel initially thought may have cost him a shot at the top 40. Then he had to wait around for another day as the final round last Friday was suspended due to darkness. Creel had to wait for 33 players to complete their final round the next day.

“It is a relief not having to worry about where I will be playing,” he added.

Creel concluded his college career last year as the NCAA Division II individual champion for Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla., which is where he lives. Creel received the Arnold Palmer Award as the Division II National Player of the Year and was a First Team All-American.

Now, Creel embarks on his professional career on the Canadian Tour, which consists of eight tournaments and concludes in early to mid-September. The first tournament is in Victoria, British Columbia June 3-9.

If Creel finishes in the top 10 on the money list in Canada, he will qualify for Tour events, the tour just below the PGA Tour.

“This is a great opportunity for me to get my Tour card next year and work my way up to the PGA Tour,” he said.

In the meantime, Creel will try to play his way into a couple of PGA Tour events.

First, he will try to qualify for this year’s U.S. Open. There is local qualifying in early May, followed by sectional qualifying. Creel said in 2010 he made it through local qualifying and was doing well in the sectionals before a poor final round.

Creel also will try to qualify for the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas, in May.

Creel was the 2008 amateur champion at the Wyoming Open at the Airport Golf Course. He likely won’t play in this year’s event, which is July 11-14, because of a Canadian Tour tournament in Alberta.

SIMPSONVILLE, Kay. (May 16) – Josh Creel accomplished Central Oklahoma's first goal at the NCAA Division II Men's Golf Championships here Thursday and now the Bronchos will gun for the second.

Creel used a late birdie surge to force a playoff and then captured the individual national title with a par on the first hole, while UCO ended up third in the 54-hole stroke play portion of the tournament to advance to the eight-team match play format that will determine the team champion.

Creel rallied from two shots down with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to finish off a one-under-par 71 and pull even with Jim Knous of Colorado School of Mines, with both ending up at 10-under 206.

The two went to the par-5 18th hole to start the playoff and it ended early as Creel two-putted for a routine par to beat Knous' three-putt bogey and become UCO's first national champion since Dax Johnston in 1996.

“It's good to join Dax as a fellow national champion at UCO,” said Creel, who was coached by Johnston last year before Pat Bates took over the helm last August. “It was a grind all day, but I hit the shots I needed to down the stretch. It's a great feeling and I'm looking forward to competing for the team title the next couple of days.”

The Bronchos closed with a 287 to finish third in the 54-hole stroke play portion of the tournament with an 856 total. The top eight teams in the 20-team field advance to match play, with UCO set to play Barry in Friday morning's quarterfinals.

Semifinal matches will be held Friday afternoon, with the championship bout scheduled for Saturday.

Cal State-Chico earned the No. 1 seed for match play by finishing three trips around The Cardinal Club with a 851 total. Also advancing were Nova Southeastern (855), UCO, Cal State-Stanislaus (858), Georgia College (862), Barry (866), South Carolina-Aiken (870) and Central Missouri (873).

Creel started the day with the individual lead, but had back-to-back bogeys early in his round to drop back. He got both those strokes back on the par-4 sixth hole, hitting his drive to 18 feet on the 274-yard and draining the eagle putt and followed with three straight pars to finish with a front nine 36.

The Cheyenne, Wyo. native opened the back nine with four consecutive pars before bogeying the par-4 14th and stayed at one-over until birdieing the par-3 16th. He followed with a two-putt birdie on No. 17 – making him five-under on that par-5 hole for the tourney – to pull even with Knous and got up-and-down for par on the final hole to force the playoff.

Creel was named the Arnold Palmer Division II Player of the Year during the awards ceremony following the playoff.

Rust started his day with eight consecutive pars and then birdied the par-5 ninth hole to make the turn at one-under 35. The Edmond junior dropped back to even par with a bogey on No. 10 and then bogeyed No. 15 before ripping off two straight birdies to finish under par for the day.

Green bounced back from a career-worse 84 in Wednesday's second round with his even-par round. The Edmond senior was two-over after seven holes before closing with a birdie to make the turn at 37 and he parred the first eight holes on the back nine before capping the day with a birdie on the par-4 18th.

Aneshansley got off to a steady start with seven straight pars before bogeying the par-3 eighth hole in making the turn at one-over 37. The Clinton senior bogeyed two of his first three holes on the back nine to drop to three-over, but got both those strokes back with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 to come in with a 36.

Franco used a ninth-hole birdie to finish with a 37 on the front nine, but then double bogeyed No. 10. He sandwiched a 14th hole bogey with birdies to stay at two-over for the round before parring the last three holes.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (May 9) -- Josh Creel used a back-nine rally to capture the individual title and Central Oklahoma finished a solid third in the NCAA Division II South Central/Midwest Regional here Wednesday to earn a berth in next week's national tournament.

Creel fired a two-under-par 34 on the closing nine to finish off a final-round 71 that gave him a two-shot victory in the medalist race, while the Bronchos shot a one-unde 287 to finish the three-day, 54-hole tournament with an 877 total at the Jefferson City Country Club.

Central Missouri won the 20-team event at 864, with Washburn (876), UCO, Indianapolis (880) and St. Edward's (884) claiming the other four qualifying spots for the national tournament that will be held May 15-19 in Louisville, Ky.

Baer Aneshansley rallied from two off days to shoot a two-under 70 and lead the Bronchos in the final round. Creed added his 71, while Andrew Green and Dillon Rust both shot 73 and Derek Franco 76.

Creel had eight pars and a bogey in shooting a front-nine 37 before making back-to-back birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 to get to one-under. The junior star gave a stroke back with a bogey at No. 16 to drop back to even, but drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th hole to take over the individual lead and made par on No. 18 to finish the tourney with a five-under 211 total.

Aneshansley used a string of three straight birdies to offset three front-nine bogeys in making the turn at even-par 36 before coming back with seven pars and two birdies on the closing nine to finish off his clutch two-under round.

Green made the turn at one-under 35 before coming back with a back-nine 38, while Rust followed a front-nine 36 with a back-nine 37 that included eight pars and a bogey. Rust tied for sixth in the individual standings at 217.

SIMPSONVILLE, Ky. — Brenda Creel pleaded with her son to smile for a photo surrounded by his beaming Central Oklahoma teammates.

“Mom, this is my smile,” Josh Creel replied, a scorer’s pencil-thin grin creasing his face.

There were three things working against Creel going all “Happy Gilmore” (his favorite sports movie) after capturing the NCAA Division II individual championship Thursday:

1. Overt displays of emotion are not his style.
2. The magnitude of what he’d just achieved hadn’t hit him yet.
3. There’s another bigger NCAA trophy that Creel and his UCO teammates came here for, and it’s still sitting in the lobby of the Cardinal Club clubhouse.

“I’ll celebrate next week,” Creel said.

The overriding goal coming here this week for Creel and Central Oklahoma was to play well enough to qualify for one of the eight match-play slots that will decide the Division II team championship over the next two days.

Primary mission accomplished. Led by Creel’s three-day total of 10-under par 206, the Bronchos compiled a total score of 8-under 856 to finish third behind Chico State (851) and Nova Southeastern (855). UCO will face off in team match play with No. 6-seeded Barry in Friday morning’s quarterfinals. Semifinals will follow immediately afterward.

A year ago, the Bronchos qualified for the quarterfinals but were eliminated 3-2 by Central Missouri despite the fact that Creel and teammate Baer Aneshansley won their matches by a combined 12 strokes. UCO lost the other three matches in a championship that came a week after the sudden resignation of long-time coach Dax Johnston.

“The 2011 season and the early part of 2012 have been rough,” Creel said. “I struggled all of 2011. I didn’t win. But I started basing my practices on peaking at this time of year and it worked out.”

For a long time Thursday it didn’t appear that Creel would win this championship, either.

Starting the day with a one-stroke lead ahead of Chico State’s Eric Frazzetta, Creel made the turn in even par after a couple of bogies and an eagle 2 on the short par-4 sixth.

Meanwhile, Colorado Mines’ Jim Knous came home with a 69 to finish at 206, then spent hours hoping to hang on to the clubhouse lead.

It appeared he would after Creel bogeyed the par-4 14th to fall two strokes back with four to play. But he stuck an iron shot to four feet on the 206-yard, par-3 16th, hit the par-5 17th in two and two-putted for birdie, then negotiated a tough up and down from short of the green on the 470-yard, par-4 18th.

Creel and first-year UCO coach Pat Bates were grinding for several minutes over the line on the 5-foot putt before the junior from Cheyenne, Wyo., stepped up and dropped it.

“We were trying to find something in it. We picked right center and it was perfect,” Creel said, a putt that did produce an emphatic fist pump.

Creel and Knous replayed the 18th in a sudden-death playoff for the title. Knous’ drive leaked into the left rough, leaving him with flyer lie for his second shot that sent the ball rocketing onto the green but about 80 feet past the hole. Creel went left center in the fairway then found the green about 30 feet past the hole on the right.

Knous’ first putt down the two-tiered slope came up about 8 feet short and left. After Creel eased his putt to within a foot for a certain par, Knous’ par attempt slid by on the right. All there was left was for Creel to tap in and capture his prize.

“I told him when were driving to the tee [for the playoff], ‘I’d love to give you some words of wisdom, but what you have inside can’t be taught,’” said Bates, a former PGA touring pro and five-time winner on the Nationwide Tour.

“He just has a lot of guts. He’s got a great work ethic and just loves to compete.”

Creel becomes UCO’s first individual champion since Johnston won the title in 1996. The two spoke by phone before Thursday’s round.

“He told me to stay patient the whole round and I did. I’ll probably go give him a call now,” Creel said.

UCO has never won the Division II team title.

“I don’t think there’s another team that wants it as bad as we do after what happened last year,” Creel said. “We’re focused and prepared to play.”

Maybe if the Bronchos win on Saturday, Creel will dig into his golf bag and find a smile for his mom.

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