Amy Bockerstette is the first person with Down syndrome to receive a college athletics scholarship, and when she was a junior, she became the first Arizona student with Down syndrome to play in the state high school playoff

By Maura Hohman
January 31, 2019 11:29 AM
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Amy Bockerstette is an incredible golfer — and she knows it!

The Special Olympian wowed visitors and professional golfers, alike, on Tuesday when she had the chance to play TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole, which is notoriously difficult because of both its layout and the crowds who come to watch.

Bockerstette, an Arizona native, showed up to the course to support last year’s Phoenix Open champ, Gary Woodland, and nine-time PGA Tour winner Matt Kuchar, as they practiced for the Arizona tournament, which starts Thursday.

Then, the pros asked her if she wanted to hit a few balls, as captured in a now-viral clip tweeted out by the PGA Tour.

Woodland and Kuchar both offered the athlete hugs, and when they complimented her skills on the course, she enthusiastically responded, “Yes!”

Then she picked up her clubs and put on her shoes, and with a little assistance from her dad, she took her first shot. It landed in a sand trap by the green, but that didn’t deter Bockerstette, who easily hit the ball out and within feet of the hole.

When walking from the tee to the sand trap, she made small talk with Woodland and Kuchar about the crowd.

“They love me! Awesome!” she said as Woodland asked, “You like all these people?” referencing how the crowds at hole 16 are daunting to many more experienced golfers.

“Yes!” she replied, all smiles.

After a little encouragement from her new friends and herself — “Why don’t you go ahead and make that?” Woodland said as Bockerstette mumbled, “You got this” — she sank the putt to an eruption of cheers from the crowd. It was a 3-par hole, and she made it.

“That is so awesome! You are so awesome!” Woodland exclaimed, laughing.

Then Bockerstette answered, looking around at the crowd, “Yes! Thank you!”

Reveling in her victory, Bockerstette waved and blew the spectators two kisses.

“You’re an inspiration, you’re our hero,” Woodland gushed.

Bockerstette’s father, Joe, went into detail about the play to local outlet, AZCentral.com.

“She’s a gamer,” Joe said. “She doesn’t get nervous. She gets excited.”

He continued: “We knew a 120-yard shot was a sweet spot for her … So we gave her one of her top clubs … We had a good feeling that she’d hit a good tee shot.”

Despite Woodland’s offer to get her out of the bunker, “She said, ‘No, I’ve got this,’ ” Joe recalled. “She was right.”

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Bockerstette’s mother, Jenny, told the outlet that she felt “overwhelmed” watching her daughter play.

“It was so exciting,” she said. “What an experience.”

According to AZCentral.com, Bockerstette is the first person with Down syndrome to receive a college athletics scholarship. She signed with Paradise Valley Community College in 2018. And when she was a junior at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, in 2017, she became the first Arizona student with Down syndrome to play in the state high school playoffs.