STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – For the first time in its 119-year existence, the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship will be played in the Magnolia State on Aug. 5-11, with Old Waverly Golf Club hosting the prestigious event. Mississippi State freshman Ashley Gilliam will be competing after qualifying for a spot in the field earlier in the summer.
"What a marvelous honor for the entire Golden Triangle region and the State of Mississippi to host the 2019 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship at the prestigious Old Waverly Golf Club," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. "Because of MSU's strong connection to Old Waverly, we think of it as 'our' course, and we are delighted to support this important sporting event in every way. Our MSU Golf programs have long benefited from our affiliation with Old Waverly and the Bryan family."
Home of the Mississippi State golf programs, Old Waverly is considered one of the top golf destinations in the South and has hosted other high-profile golf events such as the 1999 U.S. Women's Open and SEC Women's Championships. Fans are encouraged to come out and enjoy the championship, as admission is free each day.
"The United States Golf Association contacted Old Waverly because of its previous history of hosting events," said head coach Ginger Brown-Lemm. "This is a blessing for the program, and we are so thankful for George Bryan and his support of women's golf. The course has beautiful movement and makes good use of the land. It's well bunkered and the greens are fantastic. It's a little old school, which is what the traditionalist in me loves.
"Ashley is a very well-experienced USGA competitor. The way you earn the right to play in this event is a one-day, 18-hole qualifier. If you're on, then you're on. If you're not, then you're not. It's crazy how one round of 18 holes can dictate your participation in such a huge event, but that's the way it works. She has earned the right to be here. She has played in such elite events that she is calm and ready to compete. She has plenty of experience in this level of competition, and we are expecting great things from her."
The event marks the eighth USGA event Gilliam has competed in during her career. The Manchester, Tennessee, native also qualified for the 2018 U.S. Women's Amateur, carding a 3-under during stroke play to tie for 15th in a field of 156 players and advancing to the round of 64 for match play.
Gilliam was named the 2018 Tennessee Golf Association's Women's Player of the Year. She became just the third female to ever to win the Tennessean Schooldays Championship three consecutive years. That same year, she advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship.
The Rolex Junior All-American honoree set state tournament records en route to claiming the 2018 Tennessee Girls' Junior Amateur Title, carding a 6-under for the final round to finish 14 strokes ahead of second place. Gilliam has also qualified for the U.S. Women's Four Ball event the last two years.
"I'm really excited to play in the U.S Women's Amateur, especially since it's at Old Waverly," said Gilliam. "Starting college later this month, this will be good preparation playing against the top college and amateur players in the world."
Approximately 156 players will make up the field for the world's top amateur event. The championships will receive live network coverage on FS1 and live streaming coverage will be available on the USGA website.