Tag:erik compton
Posted on: March 1, 2012 7:03 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 7:04 pm

Compton hopes weekend takes turn for better

By Steve Elling

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Playing in the last group, the sun had already bid sayonara to PGA National as Erik Compton and his two playing partners finished on Thursday night.

For those hearty few who stayed and were paying attention, it was worth the wait. Compton, arguably the most inspiring story in the history of the sport, shot a 3-under 67 in his backyard and moved into a tie for 10th after the first round of the Honda Classic.

Though he is a rookie, the Miami native has played in the event before and received another sponsor exemption this year.

"This is my home game," Compton said as darkness fell.

The two-time heart transplant recipient has played in five events tis year after earning his PGA Tour card by playing well on the Nationwide last season, though his best finish is T42. Poor weekend, he said, have plagued him.

The 32-year-old seems to run out of energy, interest, or a little of both.

"I have had a hard time finishing on the wekend," Compton said. "There's a lot of stress in playing the tour, and on this golf course. I think if I had a good solid weekend, it would give me a lot of confidence."

Compton plays in the morning wave on Friday, where the wind is usually less active, so he's in a good spot, based on the typical weather patterns. But then he needs to take care of business after making the cut.

"I've got to get better at controlling my emotions," he said. "I think the talent is there, but there's more to this game than just talent."

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 27, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 12:38 pm

Compton continues incredible comeback tale

Three years ago last month, Jim McLean was attending a major league baseball in game at San Diego's Petco Park when his cellphone rang. He recognized the number immediately.

The reasoning behind the call was less obvious.

At the other end of the line was Erik Compton, lying on a hospital bed in Miami, and he was calling to say goodbye.

There was not a lick of melodrama to the call, either. Compton, a friend and student of McLean for years, was about to be wheeled in for his second heart transplant. Despite many advances in transplant medicine, Compton was in dire condition and the outcome was hardly assured.

That was in May, 2008, and it certainly didn’t mark the end of the inspirational Compton story. Only the beginning.

Within four months, Compton was miraculously back at Qualifying School, making cuts on sponsor exemptions in PGA Tour events, while jointly raising awareness for transplant recipients and organ-donor programs globally. The journeyman pro, whose first heart had given out after a near fatal attack, was again trying to find a foothold in the professional game.

His compelling story was told on HBO's Inside Sports, ABC News and by more online and print outlets than anyone can count. It was quite a comeback story: No other two-time transplant recipient was audacious enough to be attempting to derive a living as a professional sports figure. After finally making it to Q-school finals last fall, Compton has been playing this season on the developmental Nationwide Tour, where he played for several years before his first transplanted heart gave out.

Sunday, he climbed the metaphorical mountain in more ways than one.

Compton won his first career Nationwide event with a closing 65 in Mexico City, where the air is thin and the result was just as dizzying. He moved to second on the Nationwide earnings list, virtually locking up a card for 2012 on the PGA Tour, realizing a dream that three years ago seemed more like a medically induced hallucination.

"He's been through more and over come more than anyone I have ever known," said McLean on Monday from Doral Golf Resort & Spa. "I remember visiting him in his hospital room and the doctors told him he was pretty much through with professional golf."

Would you believe it? He was just getting started.

"I mean, regardless of what he did yesterday, he has already achieved more than anyone could have expected," McLean said.

As Compton waited for his next transplanted heart to become available, he chatted with doctors and friends about what his future would hold outside the game, including possibly working in the fishing profession. Compton, who received his first transplant at age 12 and became a national junior star, had other ideas, even though his wife was expecting the couple's first baby and he had no health insurance.

"His comeback, it's unreal," McLean said. "Just playing a professional sport itself is unreal, but winning is a monumental, incredible achievement."

Plagued by rain delays, Compton, now 31, soldiered through. Even he could see how apt the circumstances felt.

"This tournament has kind of summed up my life," Compton said Sunday night. "There was a lot of adversity to overcome in this tournament, just like what I’ve dealt with personally. To win this is everything to me. I never thought I’d play golf again, at least not at this level.

"I proved to myself I’m more than just a guy with two heart transplants."

Category: Golf
Posted on: July 29, 2010 2:53 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 3:52 pm

Compton making name as golfer, not miracle man

At the rate he's been playing this summer, Erik Compton might finally become as well known for his skills as a professional player as he is for being a modern medical miracle in spikes.

The 30-year-old continued his run of improbable, headline-grabbing feats Thursday when he played his final 15 holes of the PGA Tour's inaugural Greenbrier Classic in 9 under to take a one-stroke lead midway through the first round in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.

Compton, the only known professional athlete to have received two heart transplants, earlier this summer defied incredibly long odds by slogging through a steamy 36-hole qualifier, plus a three-hole playoff, to earn a berth in the U.S. Open, which at the time, represented his most memorable career achievement.

In a decade of playing as a Nationwide Tour member and in sporadic PGA Tour events, the 63 represented a career-low score.

"I think every golfer knows that if you hang in there long enough, eventually you've got to have a day like I had today," Compton told the Golf Channel moments after his round.

He's not exactly every golfer, is he?

A little more than two years removed from receiving his third heart, Compton's feat in West Virginia trumps all. He was 2 over through his first three holes, then reeled off a stretch that included birdies on six of eight holes to finish with a 7-under 63, good for a one stroke lead over veterans Pat Perez, George McNeill and Ryder Cup hopeful Jeff Overton.

Compton came to national prominence in 2008, when only a few weeks after having his second transplant, he nearly played his way into PGA Tour Qualifying School finals, a feat that was tracked by several major websites and large publications.

When he was 9, Compton was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle is unable to pump effectively. His first transplant came in 1992 at age 12, and the second in 2008, months after he nearly died of a heart attack at home in Miami when the first transplant failed. He told his family goodbye before the surgery, because the outcome was by no means certain.

"I couldn't even comprehend what he has been through in his life," said the Golf Channel's Nick Faldo, a three-time major winner.

Compton, a former college star at Georgia who has labored to find a foothold in the professional game in part because of his myriad physical issues, was given the Ben Hogan Award by the Golf Writers Association of America in 2009 for his perseverance and tenacity.

After receiving his second heart, Compton has tried to gain a spot on the Nationwide or PGA Tour the past two years via the Q-school route, but failed to reach the finals. The PGA Tour was combing though its records to find the last time a player with no status on any major pro tour held an overnight lead.

He has played in six PGA Tour-sanctioned events this year, including the U.S. Open, on sponsor exemptions or via open qualifying, and made four cuts. He shot 80-70 and missed the cut earlier this month at the Reno-Tahoe Open.

"It's been great that the tournament directors and people have taken an interest in my story," he said. "And being able to help the community, visit the hospitals, and do whatever I can for the kids, you know, it's amazing how many people have reached out to me since the Open that have disabilities, that have lost loved ones, have been organ donors or recipients.

"You know, it's just a great feeling to know that when I play, that I can maybe help somebody else get out of bed and push themselves to lead a normal life."
Compton has repeatedly been slowed by fatigue in the latter stages of tournaments, a result of his condition and the litany of medications he is forced to take.

"This course ie beneficial to me," he told the Golf Channel. "Because the walk from the tee to green is not as long as they were at the Open or Reno. It's just a good course for me."

Compton respectfully responded to a delicate query about whether his mortality ever worries him when he's playing.

"I mean, I've lived most of my life with the situation that I'm in, so, no, I wouldn't say I walk around scared," he said. "If you do that, you'll shoot 85 in a heartbeat out here. You know, it is what it is. I mean, I've had to deal with death several times. I would say you get scared when you're in a situation like that. "

Compton, for all of his travails, has never once played the self-pity card. That isn't about to change.

"Everybody has some sort of a stress level out there playing. I mean, the difficult part for everyone, for every human being, is how they deal with their own body.," he said. "I've had to learn how to deal with the body that I have. It changes, you know, with this new heart that I have as opposed to when I played when I was younger. Stress and fatigue are definitely gonna be a factor.

"But your mind is a powerful thing. If you can convince yourself that you're in better shape than you are, you can maybe have some more strength. I keep myself pretty lean so my heart is not having to work overtime. I've been blessed to be lucky to heal well.
You know, every day, you know, there is adversity that I deal with.

"But I believe that everybody has something, whether it's an injured neck or foot or whatever. You just got to make the best of it. That's what the best players in the world do."

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 7, 2010 10:34 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2010 10:39 pm

Medical marvel finds place in Pebble field

Erik Compton just pulled off his biggest miracle yet.

A day after he struggled with fatigue so badly that he seriously considered blowing off the U.S. Open sectional qualifier on Monday, the double heart transplant recipient not only made it through 36 holes, he survived a playoff and claimed a spot in the field next week at Pebble Beach, too.

Compton, a former college star who received a second heart transplant two years ago and has been battling to find a foothold in the professional game ever since, shot rounds of 69 and 66 at the Springfield, Ohio, qualifier on Monday and then survived a three-player, three-hole playoff to gain one of the final two spots out of that qualifier.

A day earlier, after shooting 82 in the final round at the Memorial Tournament in Columbus, he was so dejected and physically fried, he was grumbling about skipping the qualifier altogether and wondering if, given his medical situation, he was ever going to climb the mountain.

"I can’t keep doing this," he said.

Compton has made four cuts in as many attempts on the PGA Tour this year, but keeps running out of gas on the weekend because of his condition. He had a similar conversation with his father, Peter, in Miami on Sunday night, and it was unfathomable that Compton managed to rally and last 39 holes under the gun.

"I don’t know how he did it," Peter Compton said Monday night. "He was saying how at the end of the day it catches up to him. He said, 'I'll play, but it'll be a miracle if I get through.'"

Nice choice of words.

Reached late Monday night, Compton struggled to find the sentences to describe the feeling. He has never played in a major championship. Meanwhile, many of his old college friends are succeeding on the pro tours.

"Obviously, for me, I have done some interesting things in my career," he said, in quite an understatement. "But for me, this was by far the most emotional."

Compton, 30, said he had a horrid night's sleep and woke up at 4 a.m.

"I was beat," said Compton, who is married with a young child. "I mustered it up somehow. I popped a lot of pain pills this morning and found a way."

Despite six three-putts over his first 36 holes, Compton hung on and got to place a well-received phone call to his parents, who thought they might lose their son when he had a massive heart attack in 2007 as his first donor heart began to fail.

"I heard the phone ring and my wife screaming, and I knew either it was a very happy thing or a very bad thing," Peter Compton said.

For the Compton clan, after all they have endured, they were due for more of the former.

Category: Golf
Tags: erik compton
Posted on: November 3, 2009 2:44 pm

Compton gets another crack at Disney fun

With young guns Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark given last-minute reprieves into the event via other means, tournament officials at Walt Disney World went a different direction with their last free pass into next week’s PGA Tour season finale.

Yet the recipient’s name, if not the story, ought to be familiar by now. 

The Children’s Miracle Network Classic on Tuesday gave an invitation to medical marvel Erik Compton, who for the second year in a row received one of the event’s four sponsor exemptions.

On May 20, 2008, Compton received his second heart transplant and was competing in tour-sanctioned events an astounding five months later, a compelling story that generated headlines throughout golf. The former University of Georgia standout is the only known professional sports figure to have competed after having undergone two heart transplant surgeries. 

The Disney event marks his fifth PGA Tour appearance of 2009. He missed the cut in Puerto Rico and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but finished T44 at his hometown Honda Classic and was T76 at the Memorial Tournament. He made the cut last year at Disney.

Last week, Compton won a first-stage event in the annual PGA Tour Qualifying School by seven strokes, a key step in securing a spot on a sanctioned tour in 2010. 

Disney tournament officials for days were weighing who to hand the last of their invitations, but when the Viking Classic was rained out last week, up-and-coming hotshots Fowler and Lovemark were automatically added to the Disney field, which meant they didn’t need an exemption to play. The two former college stars lost in a playoff a week earlier at the Frys.com Open in Arizona, giving Fowler two top-seven finishes on tour in as many pro starts.

The Viking Classic rainout helped opened the door for Compton, who turns 30 on Nov. 11, the day before the Disney tournament begins.
In April, Compton received the Ben Hogan Award from the Golf Writers Association of America, given annually to a player who has remained active in the game despite a handicap or serious illness.

Category: Golf
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