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US Open champ Gary Woodland surprises Special Olympics golfer who inspired him

Woodland made a special visit to TODAY to surprise golfer Amy Bockerstette, who has Down syndrome, to thank her for inspiring him on his way to his first major title.
/ Source: TODAY

As Gary Woodland faced the pressure-packed finish on the way to his first U.S. Open championship, he heard the voice of an inspiring fellow golfer in his head telling him one simple thing: You got this!

The newly minted champion was able to thank Amy Bockerstette in person for that bit of inspiration when he surprised her on TODAY Tuesday.

"We had a special day there in Phoenix and it's blossomed from there, but the world needs a lot more of Amy,'' Woodland said on TODAY. "Her attitude, her energy is contagious. I thought a lot about you on Sunday. I think a lot about you every day, so thank you."

The two first met when Woodland, 35, and Bockerstette, 20, who has Down syndrome, played the famous par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale together ahead of the Waste Management Phoenix Open in January.

Bockerstette made an impressive par on the hole, and the video posted by the PGA was watched more than 20 million times. Fans and commenters appeared smitten by Bockerstette's infectious enthusiasm as she confidently told herself, "I got this."

"It's her love for life,'' Woodland told TODAY. "Life's not always bells and whistles, it's not always going to be great, but your energy's contagious.

"That's the only thing you can control, your attitude, and she controls her attitude beautifully. I learned a lot from her that day (in Phoenix). I was more nervous for her on that day than I was playing at any time last week. She executed under the gun, under pressure, people all around her. It was a special day."

Bockerstette made sure she didn't miss a shot by Woodland in the final two days of the U.S. Open as she watched on television with her family.

Gary Woodland surprises Special Olympics golfer who inspired him
U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland surprised his biggest fan, Special Olympics golf Amy Bockerstette, on TODAY. Nathan Congleton/TODAY

"Seeing Gary win was awesome, and we're just friends,'' she said on TODAY.

Bockerstette's signature line has now become something that fans often use to cheer on Woodland during tournaments since the video went viral.

"I hear 'I got this!' a lot,'' he said. "A lot of people have seen that video so people yell at me from the crowd, 'You got this! You got this!'

"Not only if I'm thinking about it myself, I hear it from everybody else. It's great."

The two have developed a friendship in which they often call each other on FaceTime. Bockerstette sang "Happy Birthday" to him last month, while Woodland called her right after his landmark victory Sunday to share the special moment.

Bockerstette also could probably give Woodland some pointers on the golf course, as she is an accomplished player who has signed a letter of intent to play for Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona.

She is the first person with Down syndrome to earn an athletic college scholarship, according to the Special Olympics.