Seven Vols compete at Choo Choo Invitational, but Georgia high school senior wins it

17-year-old Hogan Ingram, a rising senior at Rome High School, captured the Chattanooga Choo Choo Invitational in dramatic fashion, birdieing the final hole to win it all. PHOTO: WTVC SPORTS

The golfers competing at Council Fire Monday through Wednesday could potentially be on the PGA Tour. A champion was crowned at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Invitational at about 3:00 Wednesday afternoon.

The champion, 17-year-old Hogan Ingram out of Rome, Georgia is the youngest champion of the Choo Choo Invitational, according to tournament director Chris Schmidt.

Wednesday's action featured a lot of drama, up and down movement on the scoreboard and the very young champion.

From Ringgold's Ben Rebne - a Jack Nicklaus Award Finalist and Winner at Dalton State - to Noah Gillard, one of the hottest amateurs in the country, the field was stacked.

On the back nine, UTC 2021 commit Bradeon Wear made a lot of noise, especially with a birdie chip out of the bunker. Wear, who is ranked as a national top 30 high school golfer, said, "I looked at the leaderboard after hole 11 and I saw I was tied for the lead and then I made it on 12 out of the bunker and I was like, 'Oh crap, this could turn into something good.'"

The Tennessee Vols had seven players competing including Chip Thomas, who finished second. Brayden Garrison, a Vol and former Choo Choo Champion, tied for fourth. Garrison said, "It's (the tournament) run extremely well. It's just an event that's really close to my heart because it was my first win in college and I just love playing here."

Tournament director Schmidt said this year's players are the best. "It's the best we've seen. Yesterday and today, to see the show they put on the back nine was just amazing."

But the story of the day was the 17-year-old Ingram. The Rome High school rising senior, and reigning Georgia junior amateur champion, came alive on the back nine. He won the tournament on a 12 to 15 foot birdie putt on number 18, his final shot put him -10 and gave him the trophy. "It's awesome just to be able to compete with all the great college players here is unreal and to be able to come out on top is even better," Ingram said.

Schmidt said the dramatic finish for Ingram will stand out as a magical memory. "When you see a young man walk off a birdie as I call it on a 503 yard par 4, that's a statement. And that's a statement that'll go through his whole life," Schmidt said.