In general, only the most elite athletes ever get to play professional sports. But that doesn’t mean those athletes are the only players who can put on an amazing athletic display…
The following story follows a young lady named Amy who defied multiple challenges to shock the world with an amazing performance that would make even professional golfers jealous…
Waste Management Phoenix Open
It all took place at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, a PGA Tour event in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is played every January. The grand prize at the 2019 tournament was more than $7 million.
In an act of extraordinary kindness, the tournament’s raining champion, US golfer Gary Woodland, looked out into the crowd for a lucky someone he would invite to play the 16th hole by his side. He spotted his choice. Enter our story’s protagonist, Amy Bockerstette.
Amy is a Special Olympics golfer, and a rather accomplished one at that. She’s the first person with Down syndrome to ever qualify for a state tournament as a junior and also play for a community college. Amy’s teammates also gave her the nickname “Sprinkles” when she played for the varsity team as a freshman.
Prepping to Play
Woodland approached our heroine and offered a hug with a few kind words before escorting her to the meet some others. Amy walked with him and shook hands with another tournament player, Matt Kuchar, who welcomed her with a handshake. Amy’s mother and father followed behind the group, awestruck by what was unfolding before their eyes.
Video Clip 1
Gary Woodland and Amy speak and he shakes her hand saying, “I heard you’re a heck of a player.” The golfers then offer to let Amy take a shot, which Amy graciously accepts. She isn’t at all starstruck by the golfers or overwhelmed by the camera crew. Instead, she is completely composed and professional the whole time.
The golfers strolled toward the tee box when Woodland asked, “You want to hit a shot?” And of course Amy said yes, to which Woodland replied, “Alright, let’s do it.” After a fist bump from Kuchar, Amy turned to the cheering crowd and offered a wave…
Feeling the Love
The group walked together to where they had shoes and clubs ready for Amy. She sat to let her father tie her shoes, and in an adorable moment said to him, “They love me.” His said back to her, “I know, how about that?”
“I Got This”
Woodland handed Amy a club as they entered the tee box. Amy’s father led her by the shoulders to the center. “You see the flag right in the middle?” he asked. Amy, with absolute confidence, told him, “Yeah, I got this.”
Now, perhaps only golfers can truly appreciate what happened next. But rest assured, it was truly amazing. Amy planted her feet in front of the tee, and without even as much as a practice swing, brought the club back and swung it forward, with perfect form, and sent the ball hurling toward the tee on the first try. She took a step back and smiled as the crowd and her fellow golfers cheered.
Video Clip 2
Amy and her dad/coach, greet the rest of the players and the little golf pro sets herself up for her tremendous swing. The ball sails away almost making it on the green but unfortunately winds up in a nearby sand trap. Woodland offers Amy a high-five for the shot, but Amy knows she isn’t out of the sand just yet. “I got this,” she says.
Woodland handed Amy the sand wedge. She walked into the bunker repeating “You can do this” to herself. “I love it,” Woodland said as Amy prepared for the shot. With the precision of a champion, Amy took a half swing into the ball, lofting it lightly out of the sand and onto the green about a yard from the pin.
Woodland, Kuchar, both caddies, Amy’s parents and the entire crowd couldn’t believe Amy’s amazing shot. Many professionals couldn’t do what she had just done. Amy exited the bunker to high fives all around and hollers of enthusiasm from the crowd.
On the Green
The putt was about a yard from the pin. Woodland stood behind Amy, offering advice on the shot, “What do you think?” he asked. “Going to the left?” “Yeah,” Amy said as she lined up her shot. “Why don’t you go ahead and make that?” Woodland said.
A Putt for Par
Amy announced another, “I got this,” as she leaned over the ball with putter in hand. The crowd grew incredibly quiet. All eyes were on Amy. Just as her other shots, there was no hesitation. Amy reached back and took a swing. The ball rolled off the club perfectly, made its way to the hole and lightly dropped inside. The crowd went crazy!
Video Clip 3
After announcing yet another, “I got this,” Amy strode right into the sand pit and sized up her shot. A moment later, and with an audible “Plonk,” the tiny golf balls soars out of the sand and closer to the hole. The crowd goes wild at the shot. It’s a shot that, incidentally, more than a few other golfers would have trouble making.
An Inspiration and a Hero
Afterward, Woodland said, “Amy, it was awesome to meet you….You’re an inspiration to us.” Amy, at a loss for words, simply said, “Okay.” As Amy’s mother approached her daughter, Woodland added, “You’re our hero.”
A Viral Sensation
Millions around the country and no doubt the world saw what happened that day at the Phoenix Open. The tweet posted by the GPA Tour showing Amy’s entire experience has been liked more than 27,000 times, retweeted more than 8,000 times, and has almost 10,000 comments. The video itself, at the time of writing, had been viewed more than 3 million times.
Woodland spoke about it at a press conference following Amy’s amazing performance: “I told her she was an inspiration to all of us and we can all learn from her….She has dealt with some serious issues and she’s overcome them and she is phenomenal.”
A Lesson for Everyone
“She was so sweet, she was so excited and happy and that’s something that we can all learn from. When things aren’t going our way we can definitely look back at her. And I told her she was a hero and to keep doing what she’s doing because we’re all going to be following her.”
Video Clip 4
After making the shot and seeing not only the crowd but the other pro golfers go wild, Amy finally has a moment to embrace her mother. The crowd continues to cheer as the two reflect on Amy’s achievements that day. “You were amazing!” says her mom “I’m so proud of you….You happy?” And, still smiling, Amy replies with a triumphant, “Yes.”