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?
Getty Images

Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

Getty Images

Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm