Not only did Sunday at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational produce a superb showdown between now world number 1 Rory McIlroy and his friend from Spain, 3rd ranked Sergio Garcia, it also sent the golf interwebs into a frenzy when (unknown at the time) 25 year old Ohio based model Ashley Bongiovanni was seen in the background making some friendly eyes at the soon to be WGC champ (we’ve broken down the incident like the Zapruder film here). Here is the vine that set it all off:
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) August 3, 2014
Ashley herself caught wind of the internet firestorm, and notified our buddy Kyle Porter that it was indeed her in the background of Rory’s tee shot on the 15th hole. We took it a step further and tracked her down for an exclusive interview. Enjoy.
NLU: Alright, as best you can, try to describe what the last 24 hours of your life have been like.
Ashley Bongiovanni: (Laughter). It’s been pretty amusing to say the least. Not your typical Monday… to put it lightly, haha.
NLU: Do you live in Ohio? Grow up in Ohio?
Ashley: I’m kind of a transplant, and don’t really have a hometown like most do. I’m kind of a nomad, and I lived in four different states growing up. But yeah, I do live in Ohio, and I travel often. My family is in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. I guess if I could call somewhere home it would be Pittsburgh, as that’s where I spent my core years. I usually don’t discuss sports with people in Ohio being from Pittsburgh, just to play it safe (laughter).
NLU: How long have you been modeling?
Ashley: Since I was about 19, so about six years. I work for a few different agencies: some in Florida, Pittsburgh, Ohio, and a couple of affiliates in L.A.
NLU: What’s the coolest that’s happened in the last 24 hours?
Ashley: (Laughter). People can’t really see because of the camera angle, but believe it or not, and I’m not making this up, but Rory did smile at me, and I thought that was pretty cool, (laughter).
NLU: Was this before he hit the shot or after?
Ashley: It was right after. He started walking right towards me, and this was like my second time going to the Bridgestone, and I’m still trying to learn up. So far, my game is pretty weak, haha. But I’m working on it! I definitely have the aggression to whack the ball far with a driver, but I’m still trying to learn the nuances of the game, and trying to be respectful. There were people behind me like, right after he swung screaming a bunch of stuff, and I’m just standing there thinking to myself like, ‘Am I too close? Should I move back? Am I doing something wrong?’ (Laughter). And then he smiles at me, and I was like “UHHHH what do I do!? (Laughter).
NLU: I found it hilarious that he went over and stood to the left of the tee box nowhere near his caddie. I’m thinking you may have had something to do with that.
Ashley: I can neither confirm or deny some influence, haha. I just stood there, and he just kind of gave me a smile, and I kind of smiled back and I just stood there like….. what am I supposed to do now!?
NLU: How long were you camped at that spot?
Ashley: I was kind of following him for most of the holes. On the other holes, I didn’t have a very good view, as I’m a little shorter. So I moved ahead of him a little, and ended up in this great spot. I was so close, and he was coming close, and I didn’t know what to do!
NLU: Was it Rory in particular that you wanted to see?
Ashley: I think he’s just a really good player, and unlike other players that have a lot of ego, he’s just really enjoyable to watch and he makes you feel like he deserves it when he succeeds. You can tell that he wants to win tournaments for his own personal accomplishment, and not necessarily for the fame and glory. So I enjoy watching him play and succeed. I also enjoy watching Phil Mickelson, and yeah, I’m still learning, but he’s a favorite player of mine.
NLU: When did you become aware that you were on TV?
Ashley: That’s the funny part, because everyone is like ‘Oh she was aware, and she was totally milkin’ it,” I really had no idea. I was just standing there and… (laughter)…. the wind blew, and I have a lot of hair! I pushed it out of my face, and I had my sunglasses on top of my head, and I just said, I’m just gonna hold my hair, then he smiled at me, and I dropped my hair. So then we move on to the next hole after Sergio hits, and you’re not supposed to have your phone out (although I did sneak a couple of pics, so take that). It was right after that I kept getting all of these texts, and all of my friends where sending me screenshots and what not. I was like, ‘Look how angry I look!’
NLU: You did have your serious face on. You looked like a serious golf fan!
Ashley: Yeah! I was trying to concentrate, I was trying to watch the shot, yunno. I may not know the exact technique they’re using, but I was watching.
NLU: How many twitter followers did you gain out of all this?
Ashley: Not sure, somewhere in the 200-300 range. It’s funny, because of all the social medias, I really don’t engage in my twitter, but I guess I’ll have to learn now, as that’s where everyone is coming at me from!
NLU: Alright now the question everyone wants to know. Who were you with at the tournament? Who was standing behind you? Who is backwards hat guy!?
Ashley: (Laughter). I’m having a really fun time letting people figure that out for themselves. I feel bad for the guy in the green near me that everyone seems to think is my boyfriend. And the backwards hat bro, or whatever they’re calling him (laughter). But for right now, I think I’ll leave it up to them to decide (laughter).
NLU: You can’t do that! So you can at least confirm that you know backwards hat guy?
Ashley: I may know backwards hat guy.
NLU: And you’re not gonna say any more than that?
Ashley: Nope, nope. (Laughter).
NLU: Is that who you went to the tournament with?
Ashley: I can neither confirm or deny. (Laughter).
NLU: (Laughter). I could tell how coy you were when you answered that on twitter that you weren’t going to give me a straight answer on that.
Ashley: (Laughter). I did like your tweets though, they were funny.
NLU: Alright, so if Rory somehow got a hold of you and invited you to the PGA Championship, would you go?
Ashley: Oh for sure! I mean, I don’t mean to dive into his personal life, I know he has a lot going on for sure, especially recently, and I wouldn’t want to be a distraction, but if the invite was given, I feel like…. Hell yeah!
NLU: Would you be interested in dating Rory McIlroy?
Ashley: (Laughter). You’re making me blush. I mean…. I would enjoy his company. You could say that.
Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshBongiovanni.