Until she pulls out her golf clubs. They do plenty of speaking for her.
Gilliam, the 12-year-old daughter of Marshall and Jennifer Gilliam, let those
clubs do the talking to the tune of a first-place finish in the regional final of the Masters’ Inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt National Championship. That performance has opened the door to the opportunity of a lifetime for Ashley – a trip to play golf at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. next spring.
“It really feels good that I get to go play at Augusta because it’s been my dream to go,” said Ashley, a seventh-grader and member of the golf team at Coffee County Middle School. She will join 87 other youth to compete next spring on the Sunday prior to the Masters Tournament, which runs April 10-13.
“And now to get to get my clubs out and play is just amazing,”
Earning the opportunity to play in the finals was no easy feat. More than 190,000 golfers ages 7-15 applied to compete in the event. A total of 110 sectional qualifiers were held across the country, and only the top two scorers in each division advanced to regional finals. Ashley made the cut at the sectional event in Georgia and moved on to the regional competition at the Atlanta Athletic Club. From there only one girl in the 12-13 age group would win a ticket to Augusta.
Marshall Gilliam said he was not surprised that Ashley was the one making the cut.
“I felt pretty confident, even though coming out of the sectional into the regional there were going to be 20 girls there competing and only one made it,” Marshall said. “So I knew it was going to take and good day, and she came through.”
Ashley did well enough in driving and putting categories to stay competitive and clinched the win with the day’s highest score in the final event – chipping.
“She’s got a great ability to win,” Marshall said. “She always has.” …
Continue reading the complete story in this week’s (Aug. 21) print edition of the Manchester Times. Click here to subscribe to the print and/or full online edition of the paper.