Gary Woodland, the golfing megastar who clinched victory in this year’s U.S. Open, has said that a remarkable encounter with a special Olympian golfer was what inspired him to cross the finish line and earn his first major title.
Woodland, who won the U.S. Open trophy at Pebble Beach on June 16, played alongside 20-year-old Amy Bockerstette for a hole at the iconic 16th at the Phoenix Waste Management Open earlier this year, and was profoundly impacted by the experience.
Bockerstette, who has Down Syndrome, was overcome with joy at playing the hole and went on to make a stunning up-and-down par after finding the greenside bunker off the tee.
But prior to draining her 20-foot par putt, the remarkable young woman uttered a few words that stuck with Woodland and gave him the courage he needed when faced with a pivotal clutch chip off the 17th green at Pebble Beach. “You got this,” Bockerstette said, before confidently boxing the putt — it was those simple words that provided Woodland with the steady hand required to hole out for his first major championship win.
“I told myself that a million times today,” Woodland said after the big win.
“She’s obviously dealt with so much in her life, and like everybody has, but her attitude is unbelievable,” Woodland told ESPN after storming to a three-shot victory over last year’s champion, Brooks Koepka. “That’s what I’ve learned from her. And, hopefully, the world gets more of that in it because we all need more of Amy in it.”
“There’s nobody that I’ve seen be in the moment as much as she is,” Woodland added. “Everybody always says in sports, ‘You got to be in the moment, you got to be the moment.’ Amy lives in the moment and that’s what’s special.”
In another touching gesture, Woodland used part of his post-win presser to Facetime Amy and her mom for a quick chat:
“You keep up the good work, and thank you for all the positive vibes!” he said. “I look forward to seeing you soon — maybe we can play some golf.”
“Yes!” Amy replied.
Watch the moment Gary sank his final putt below: