Joshua Creel fired a 9-under 61 on Friday to fly up the leaderboard at the Korn Ferry Tour’s 2023 Visit Knoxville Open.
Creel was out in the early wave at Holston Hills Country Club and had eight birdies in his first 12 holes. Five straight pars cooled him off but a closing birdie got him to 9 under, one day after shooting an even par round.
After his career-low and course-record tying round, he was asked what was going through his mind after posting a 29 on the front nine.
“Fifty-nine, yeah. Par 70, turn 29, you’re thinking 59 for sure,” Creel said, adding that he thought a sub-60 round was oh-so-close.
“I lipped out putts on 14, 15 and 16, so that’s 61, could have been a couple better,” he said.
Creel’s red-hot Friday has him within a shot of the lead, held by Alejandro Tosti, the first-round co-leader.
Tosti is seeking his first professional win and knows there’s a lot of work ahead with 36 holes still to play this weekend. But he likes where he’s at.
“Just being in the fight for the tournament. I’ve been playing really well and I feel like I’ve been knocking on the door but not having a good result, so whatever is meant to happen will happen,” he said after rounds of 63 and 67. “I know there are not many guys playing better than me at this time, so I’m very happy with the opportunity.”
Tosti’s Argentinian countryman Jorge Fernandez Valdes is also at 9 under after shooting a 64 on Friday. Jacob Solomon and Matt McCarty are tied for fourth at 8 under. The other first-round co-leader, Nelson Ledesma, shot a 70 Friday to slide back into a tie for sixth.
Camilo Villegas is in the field and he’s tied for 10th (67-67).
Story originally appeared on GolfWeek