AAP Golf

Woodland shares win with viral golf buddy

By AAP Newswire

From her perch in front of a TV in Florida, viral golf star Amy Bockerstette had no doubt.

How could she, after she and Gary Woodland had come this far together.

On Sunday Woodland capped off his final round at Pebble Beach with a long birdie putt on the 18th hole for his first major title. He held off two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka to win the US Open on the coast of California.

And down in Florida, the junior college player Bockerstette did a little dance to celebrate.

"She lived and died every shot during the round," her father, Joe Bockerstette said. "I can't express how excited Amy was. She kept asking me all day when Gary was going to tee off."

They're linked together, the professional golfer with steely nerves and the 20-year-old with Down Syndrome. Google the two online, and the video of a special day in January comes up when Amy won something in her own way that was just as big as a US Open trophy.

More than 20 million have watched, and more than 20 million had to have cried. Amy had her own moment of glory and as we got to know her, we found out a lot about Woodland too.

He's there on the 16th tee at TPC Scottsdale, giving Amy a hug and handing her an iron to hit in a practice round for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

He's there high-fiving Amy after she hits it into a bunker and clapping as she gets it out on the green.

And he's there with a little advice at the end.

"What do you think? Going a little left?" asked Woodland. "Why don't you go ahead and make that?"

"OK," Amy replied. "I got this."

Of course, she did. She hadn't come this far to fail.

Amy sunk the putt for par like a seasoned pro, then she and Woodland celebrated with hugs all around. In the stands around the green, fans stood to cheer the red-headed girl in a purple shirt and white skirt.

"They love me!" she said. "Awesome!"

"You couldn't have written that script in January," her father said. "It changed our lives."

After winning his first major title on Sunday, Woodland leaned his arms over the Open trophy and with a phone in his hand he video-called Amy.

"Did you like that today?" he asked. "I used your positive energy. You were awesome."

That day in January changed Amy's life, and in the end it changed Woodland's too.

Without Amy, he might not have been thinking "I got it." Before they met he had held or shared the third round lead in seven PGA tournaments and didn't win one. He was a perennial underachiever who had more talent than results to show for it.

Now he's a US Open champion. And he's got a special friend for life.

"She's meant everything for me from a mental standpoint," Woodland said. "The world needs more of her in it."