All About Heart

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
MIAMI ' Dressed in a faded orange shirt, blue sweat pants and sneakers, 28-year-old Erik Compton looks like just another pro golfer hoping to get back on the PGA Tour.
 
He launches ball after ball on the driving range, sending them more than 250 yards, though not his usual 300 yards, through the humid air toward Miami International Airport across the street.
 
Finally his workout ends and Compton changes his shirt, revealing the scar. It runs down his chest and hints at what sets the golfer apart: Barely five months ago, he was on an operating table for the second time in his life without a heart.
 
Erik Compton
Erik Compton, shown here in 2007, is trying to play his way back onto the PGA Tour. (Getty Images)
Ive been dead, Compton said. Twice.
 
Now the PGA Tour has granted him special permission to use a golf cart and to continue taking banned anti-rejection pills, and the former No. 1-ranked junior golfer and two-time heart transplant recipient has a chance to add another twist to his incredible story.
 
Compton was diagnosed at age 9 with cardiomyopathy, an enlarging of the heart that hinders its ability to pump blood. Three years later in 1992, he received a new heart at Miamis acclaimed Jackson Memorial Hospital.
 
The Comptons home in south Miami was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew that August, forcing the family to move about 10 miles north near the golf suburb of Doral. Compton didnt have the stamina ' or the frame ' for sports like football and basketball. Living in the golf paradise of South Florida, it was only natural he tee it up.
 
Honestly, I didnt think much of him then, said Charles DeLucca, Comptons mentor and the president of the Dade Amateur Golf Association. He needed a hand cart because of his condition. He was like every other kid, only not as healthy. But I quickly found out he was special.
 
Hes very confident, very strong, very driven. Thats why he heals. Thats why he gets better. He just thinks he can do it all. He thinks he can out hit you. He thinks he can out putt you. Its his whole life, it isnt just golf.
 
Unaware of the severity of the heart attack he was suffering Oct. 3, 2007, Compton frantically drove himself from the golf course to the same hospital where he received his first transplant at age 12. His heart was running at 15 percent capacity, his car was going full throttle and he was calling everybody he could to tell them he loved them and to say goodbye.
 
I thought it was over, he said.
 
He ran a toll on the Dolphin Expressway ' receiving a ticket in the mail a week later ' and somehow made it to the hospital alive. Doctors were able to keep him stabilized, but his condition worsened. In the following months, it became obvious he would need another heart.
 
He was pretty much resigned to thinking golf was over, renowned golf instructor and friend Jim McLean said. He was just hoping to survive.
 
Fortunate to find another donor, Compton underwent a 14-hour operation May 20. At the time, he didnt know his wife, Barbara, was pregnant. With all the medication he has taken in his life, he didnt even know he could still father a child.
 
Eriks whole life is a miracle, his mother, Eli Compton, said. The things he has done defy common logic.
 
Compton was a top-ranked amateur and a two-time All-American at Georgia before he turned professional in 2001, playing mostly on the Nationwide Tour but also qualifying for a few PGA Tour events. McLean, a longtime professional instructor who has mentored dozens of PGA Tour members, called Comptons swing one of the best Ive ever seen in my life.
 
Compton was on the putting green a month after receiving his latest heart and began playing at full speed in August. Hes put on 20 pounds since being a shriveled, pale hospital patient, and hes again hitting the ball with pace.
 
But I dont know if he could walk five rounds without collapsing right now, DeLucca said.
 
On his doctors advice, Compton petitioned the PGA Tour and was granted special permission earlier this month to use a golf cart like Casey Martin, who first took a similar fight in 2001 to the Supreme Court.
 
PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw declined to say how the medical review panel reached its decision, but its hard to argue with a guy whos had three hearts. The tour will continue to evaluate Compton, who hopes to play without a cart when he has rehabilitated.
 
Compton has registered to play in the first stage of the PGA Tours qualifying school Oct. 21-24 at Crandon Golf Club on Key Biscayne, which happens to be his favorite course.
 
Compton has plenty more to look forward to than golf. His wife is due to give birth to a girl on Feb. 26, a date that has special meaning.
 
Its 17 years to the day he had his first heart transplant, given to him by a young girl who died in a car accident in west Florida. Compton did not want to disclose the name of the girl, but he often writes letters thanking the families of those whose two hearts gave him life.
 
His struggle to stay healthy may have no end. The average life of a transplanted heart is 11 years, meaning he could have such problems again.
 
Still, Compton views his condition as a blessing not a curse.
 
Somebody that walks around with no perspective on life, not enjoying life, now thats a tragedy, he said. If you had everything you wanted, if everything was perfect, could you imagine how boring that would be?
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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.