Local golfer Ashley Gilliam had a strong finish last week at the U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball Championship. The Tullahoma High School graduate made it to the quarterfinals of the USGA event.
Gilliam and her partner, Caroline Curtis of Richmond, Va., finished with a score of 69 through five days to finish three under par on Wednesday, May 1. This was an improvement on her performance at the 2018 event in California, where she and her partner finished in the round of 32. This year's tournament was held at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla.
"It was really good, we played really good together," Gilliam said. "We were a good team."
Gilliam said both she and Curtis hit the ball well through much of the tournament. Iron shots in particular were working for the pair, helping set up several birdie opportunities.
The short game was an area Gilliam said the two had some trouble with.
"We weren't making many putts over ten feet, which was hard in match play," Gilliam explained. "The greens were tough though."
Despite some of the issues with the greens, Gilliam and Curtis's play was still strong enough to carry them deep into the event. The duo was helped by having good chemistry and some experience playing with one another.
"I think that we definitely met our expectations. We did play really well as a team," Gilliam said. "We know we could've gone further, but we played the best we could each day."
Gilliam's favorite moment of the competition came in the round of 16 after she landed in a bunker on a chip shot. After Curtis chipped her ball onto the green, Gilliam holed out of the bunker to score a birdie and win the hole.
"That was pretty cool," Gilliam said. "We thought we were maybe gonna lose or tie that hole."
Based on the improvement from her first time competing in 2018, Gilliam said she was excited to give the tournament another shot in the future.
She will be playing for Mississippi State starting this fall, while Curtis will be playing for Alabama. Due to proximity and having similar SEC schedules, Gilliam is hoping that they can come back and give it another shot in 2020.
"I think that would be really, really fun if we can do it next year," Gilliam said. "Hopefully our schedules work out."