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What you need to know about COVID-19: October 20, 2020
It may not be China or South America, but Myles Creighton is still grateful to be playing on a professional golf tour.
The Digby native and Jupiter, Fla., resident – who spent his first pro season on the PGA Tour Series-China in 2019 and made the cut in the 2020 PGA Tour Latinoamerica season-opening event in Mexico – has been plying his trade the past two months on the LOCALiQ Series throughout the American Southeast.
The LOCALiQ Series is a one-off professional golf circuit organized by the PGA Tour. The eight-tournament series was announced following the cancellation of much of the PGA Tour’s global development tours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fields consist of 144 players who have qualified to play in China, Latin America and the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. Each tour is a feeder circuit for the second-tier Korn Ferry Tour.
Creighton is the lone Nova Scotian playing in the series.
“I played in the first Latin America event and had booked travel to Argentina for the next tournament and then COVID cancelled all of that,” the 24-year-old Creighton said in a recent interview.
“Once all of those tours were cancelled, thankfully the PGA Tour came up with this tour for players at our level so that we can play in some events and get some reps in. The fields are so strong because it’s all of the best players from the three tours. It’s basically the top 50 guys from the previous year. And some of them have conditional status for the Korn Ferry Tour. I’'s pretty tough and we’re playing for less money than we normally would. But it’s being held in America which helps for expenses and stuff like that.
“I’m just happy to be competing and playing against the best players.”
Creighton was slated to travel overseas in March to play his second season on the China tour. He had momentum on his side. In 2019, he recorded three top-10s, including a solo second at the Qinhuangdao Championship, and finished 17th on the Order of Merit.
But the outbreak of the coronavirus in China earlier this year forced the PGA Tour Series-China to cancel its season, the first pro golf tour to do so in 2020.
Creighton then headed south of the border to Mazatlan, where he finished in a tie for 35th, 14 strokes off the lead, at the Estrella del Mar Open in early March.
He was finalizing his travel itinerary for Buenos Aries later that month when the sporting world came to a screeching halt.
Creighton remained in Florida during the shutdown. His home course in Jupiter didn’t close so he was able to practise and play in some local money events.
“When the shutdown happened, you’d never expected it to last as long as it has,” Creighton said. “It has been hard to plan for anything.
“But luckily my golf course stayed open. Golf was really the one thing you could do through all of this. You can social distance pretty easily on a golf course. I play at a course in Jupiter with a lot of good players and there are a lot of guys around the area who play on the PGA Tour or Korn Ferry. You can practise all you want but there’s nothing like competing. So there were some money games.
“My situation wasn’t as bad as a lot of other guys whose courses were closed down,” he added. “I used the time to improve my game and be better for when those tours restart and hopefully one day move up to the Korn Ferry Tour.”
In the meantime, he sits in 67th place in the overall points standings on the LOCALiQ Series. The abbreviated tour, which consists of seven 54-hole stroke play tournaments, will conclude in late October with a limited-field, 72-hole LOCALiQ Series Championship in the Bahamas. Only the top 78 players will make the cut for the series championship. The top two in the overall standings will be awarded sponsor exemptions into tournaments on the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry circuit in 2021.
The LOCALiQ Series is in the midst of a three-tournament Florida swing.
Following last week’s Jacksonville Championship, the tour heads to Lady Lake, Fla., for The Challenge at Harbor Hills, which begins Wednesday. Next week’s Classic at the Club at Weston Hills will be the final event before the series championship in the Bahamas.
Creighton admits that the courses – and the travel – aren't as challenging as what he experienced in China.
“These courses are not necessarily what I like to play; I like to play a tougher course,’ he said. “But it is good to mix it up and be able to compete towards a 20-under over three rounds.
“Travelling to Alabama and Georgia has been good. I didn't need to fly. I just drove to the different courses. They’re long drives but it’s easier than for those who have to fly in for them.”
Creighton will look to get back on track after missing the cut by two strokes in Jacksonville. After failing to make the cut in the season’s first two events in Alpharetta, Ga., he reeled off top-30 finishes in Pine Mountain, Ga., (tie for 27th) and Auburn, Ala., (tie for 23rd).
“I played solid but I just didn’t do anything that was very special,” Creighton recalled. “The scores are so low that if you don’t have a round where you shoot 7- or 8-under, you’ll find yourself behind the 8-ball. You can play great and shoot 3- or 4-under, which I had been doing, but you need that one round where you shoot even better.
“But I know where my game stacks up. Obviously you hope to win and earn some money but it’s just good to get back to competing and playing again.”