Ashley Gilliam

Ashley Gilliam plays her second shot on the second hole during the second round of stroke play at the 2018 U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, Calif. on Sunday, April 29, 2018. (Copyright USGA/J.D. Cuban)

Local resident Ashley Gilliam is no stranger to competing at the highest levels of amateur golf. This week, the 17-year-old will return to the national stage to take part in the U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball Championship.

"I'm really excited. The four-ball is a really, really fun tournament," Gilliam said. "I played in it last year in California."

This year's championship will be held at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla. from April 27-May 1. It is organized by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and features 128 individuals paired up on 64 teams. 

Gilliam, who graduated from Tullahoma High School in December, will be teamed up with Caroline Curtis of Richmond, Va. This is Gilliam's fifth USGA event and second four-ball competition. This weekend will be Curtis's third time competing at a USGA Championship

"I think we can do really well," Gilliam said. "I think we can go low in the stroke play rounds and hopefully play good in match play."

Four-ball competition is based around having both partners play their own ball and taking the lowest score for each hole between the two. 

At the 2018 four-ball championship, Gilliam and her partner made the cut to match play. She is hoping to return again this year.

"It'd be really cool to make it to match play, but match play's a lot different," Gilliam said. "Just make it to match play and see how it goes from there and try to go as far we can."

Gilliam, who will be joining the Mississippi State women's golf team this fall, enjoys competing against herself on the course and using this mindset to help get better. Her mentality, experience and rapport with her partner has Gilliam excited to see what she and Curtis can do. 

"I think just knowing the format and I know my partner really well too," Gilliam explained. "I feel like we can play well together and be a really good team."