COLLIERVILLE – Throughout this week’s Tennessee Amateur Championship, Aaron Ingalls said he didn’t feel a lot of pressure to perform well.
So when the championship was on the line and the tension was at its peak on Friday, the 32-year-old from Jackson calmly stepped up and answered the call.
Ingalls sank a 35-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole (No. 10) at Spring Creek Ranch to end a three-way battle with Ross Redmont (Memphis) and Kyle Cottam (Knoxville) to be crowned the champion of the 103rd annual state championship.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” Ingalls said. “It’s an honor. There are a lot of great names on this trophy. It’s just a tremendous honor.”
“Honestly, I felt like there wasn’t as much pressure on me this week. I’m playing against a lot of college players who play every day. I go to work every day. Nobody expects me to win it, so I just come out and play golf, and just stick to my game and see what happens.”
Ingalls started the final round two strokes back, but had what seemed to be a comfortable two-stroke lead as he stepped on the No. 17 tee box.
Redmont, a Memphis native who plays golf for the University of Tennessee-Martin, started to make things interesting with a birdie on the par three.
On the par-five 18th, Redmont was on the green in two while Ingalls miss-hit his second shot into the creek running up the left side of the fairway. He managed to hit his fourth shot to within 15 feet and sank the putt to save par, but Redmont two-putted for birdie to pull into a tie for first at the end of regulation.
That’s not where the drama ended, though.
Coming up behind them was a red-hot Cottam. The University of Tennessee sophomore birdied five of his final eight holes to storm back from a score of 40 on the front nine. He got up and down for birdie on No. 18 to force a three-way playoff.
All three players parred the first extra hole (No. 18). Cottam did so after pulling his drive left into the creek. His fourth shot was from 40 yards away out of a fairway bunker. He hit to within 20 feet and saved par.
Cottam’s driver betrayed him again on the next playoff hole as he hit right into the woods. He punched out and then hit his third shot onto the green.
Ingalls and Redmont had similar putts on the 10th green. Redmont’s putt went by the hole. Ingalls then rolled his in to end the tournament.
“I had a similar putt in regulation,” Ingalls explained. “It was on a similar line, a little closer to the hole. I actually ran it eight feet by. I knew what it did, and I knew it was fast going down that hill. I know I just needed to get it over the hill and let it roll out toward the hole.”
Ingalls was a late-bloomer when it came to competitive golf. He went to college at Lambuth University to play football for former coach Hugh Freeze. After one year, he gave up football and walked on the golf team.
After graduation, Ingalls turned pro and attempted to go the mini-tour rout for a few years. He regained his amateur status four or five years ago.
“When I graduated, I went down and played on some mini tours and really got burnt out,” Ingalls said. “I put the clubs up for four or five years and didn’t really play at all.”
My wife and I decided to move back to Jackson and I joined the club there. There’s a good group of guys there that really made it fun for me again.”
University of Tennessee golfer Brayden Garrison finished fourth at 3-under. Philip Lee (Nashville), Bryce Lewis (Hendersonville), Tim Jackson (Williston) and Jacob Sherlin (Hendersonville) tied for fifth at 1-under. Ryan Terry of Nashville ended up alone in ninth at even par.
William Nottingham, a Kingsport native and teammate of Cottam’s at Clemson University, was the leader after the second and third rounds but fell to a tie for 10th at 1-over, along with Tennessee Golf Foundation president Whit Turnbow.
The top 20 finishers in this year’s Tennessee Amateur get automatic exemption into next year’s championship, which will be held at The Honors Course.
AT SPRING CREEK RANCH
Final round, August 10, 2018
1 Aaron Ingalls 74-69-69-70-282 (Won two-hole playoff)
2 Kyle Cottam 75-66-70-71-282
2 Ross Redmont 70-72-71-69-282
4 Brayden Garrison 71-69-71-74-285
5 Philip Lee 70-73-76-68-287
5 Bryce Lewis 75-70-71-71-287
5 Tim Jackson 72-70-76-69-287
5 Jacob Sherlin 78-71-68-70-287
9 Ryan Terry 70-72-77-69-288
10 William Nottingham 69-69-72-79-289
10 Whit Turnbow 75-70-71-73-289
12 Matt Cooper 77-71-72-70-290
12 Brock Ochsenreiter 72-67-73-78-290
12 Spencer Cross 76-74-70-70-290
12 Cayman Ratliff 75-74-70-71-290
16 Jake Hall 76-72-75-68-291
16 Michael Shears 74-71-71-75-291
16 Zachary Smith 71-73-73-74-291
19 Michael Barnard 72-77-68-75-292
20 John Barnett 79-69-72-73-293
20 Hunter Wolcott 76-71-76-70-293
20 Trevor Johnson 71-74-74-74-293
20 Jackson Skeen 73-73-75-72-293
20 Jack Smith 73-73-73-74-293
20 Cade Russell 75-74-70-74-293
20 Jack Crosby 73-76-74-70-293
For complete scoring from the 103rd Tennessee Amateur Championship at Spring Creek Ranch: https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/1375609