PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The video went viral the moment it hit the web earlier this year: a young golfer with Down Syndrome joining Gary Woodland — not yet U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland — for a triumphant hole at the 2019 Waste Management Open in Phoenix.
The girl’s name is Amy Bockerstette, and she has made two appearances in the Arizona state high school championships despite her challenges. Back in January, she met Woodland through the Special Olympics, and the two connected immediately. Woodland invited her to join him for a hole during a practice round, and — hey, you know what? Just watch this. It’ll be the best three minutes of your day, guaranteed:
“I’ve got this,” Amy repeated, over and over, first hammering the ball off the tee, then out of a sand trap, and then into the cup. And all of this while playing in The Coliseum, the enclosed 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale.
Seriously. Listen to Amy’s “they love me” when she realizes that the pros and the fans are welcoming her to the hole. Listen to the cheers as she tees off, and the roars when she sinks the putt. That’s just the best.
I’ve got this. I’ve got this. It’s a wonderful mantra … and five months later, while he was working his way around Pebble Beach holding a lead in the U.S. Open, Woodland returned to it.
“Amy told me a million times when we were on this hole, I've got this, I've got this,” Woodland said Sunday night, “and I told myself that a million times today, ‘I've got this.’ ”
And just like Amy five months before, he did.
Life hasn’t been easy for Woodland. A 35-year-old journeyman — until Sunday, at least — in a sport that chews up dreams, he’s scrambled every year he’s been on Tour, winning only three times since turning pro in 2007.
Woodland and his wife Gabby also suffered the loss of one of their twins in 2017 while Gabby was pregnant. The couple is expecting again, twins again, and Woodland hopes to teach his son Jax and his future children to learn from Amy’s example.
“Amy's attitude is phenomenal,” he said. “Positive energy is contagious. And life's not always going to be bells and whistles. There are going to be bad things in your life, a lot of ups and downs, but the only thing you can control is your attitude. And if you do that, in the end, good things will happen.”
Amy watched as a very good thing happened for Woodland:
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 17, 2019
Woodland FaceTimed with Amy while standing beside the trophy, and her enthusiasm bubbled right through the phone:
Gary Woodland talks with Amy Bockerstette... pic.twitter.com/O3LmfNv7Gm
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelTAN) June 17, 2019
“I used your positive energy,” Woodland said, leaning on the U.S. Open trophy. “You were awesome!”
“Thank you!” Amy replied.
“Thank you,” Woodland said.
Three simple words from an unexpected inspiration. Three simple words that won the U.S. Open.
“I’ve got this.”
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