Compton earns Tour card; Duke wins title

By Associated PressOctober 30, 2011, 9:11 pm

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton earned a PGA Tour card when he finished in the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list, while Ken Duke won the season-ended Nationwide Tour Championship on Sunday to also secure a spot on the big tour.

Duke closed with a 4-under 68 to finish at 10 under on Daniel Island Club’s Ralston Creek Course, two better than Scott Brown. The 42-year-old Duke earned $180,000 and went from 36th to seventh on the money list.

Compton wasn’t sure he’d ever play pro golf, let alone be member of the PGA Tour.

Yet the two-time heart transplant recipient finished off his dream Sunday. Compton mostly secured his spot in June when he won his first Nationwide title at the Mexico Open. He ended 13th overall with $239,737 to advance.

The 31-year-old Compton has played 30 career PGA events, but none with a tour card in his bag.

“It’s a miracle,” he said. “It really is a miracle what I’ve been able to achieve.”

J.J. Killeen won the money title, which made him fully exempt on the PGA Tour and gave him entry into the The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in May.

And the day ended with some drama as Brown made a long par-saving putt on the 17th and birdie on the 18th to finish alone in second when a bogey down the stretch would’ve dropped Billy Hurley III from the final qualifying spot at No. 25.

Hurley, a former Naval lieutenant who was on active duty in the Persian Gulf guarding Iraqi oil platforms two years ago, hugged his wife when Brown’s last put dropped.

James Nitties, who began the week in 23rd, fell to 26th, just outside what it took to join the PGA Tour.

There were plenty of smiles and disappointments as loud, celebratory music blared from the clubhouse when the event was over. None of the triumphs, though, seemed as amazing as Compton’s rise from two heart transplants. He was diagnosed at age 9 with cardiomyopathy, an enlarging of the heart that deters its ability to pump blood. Three years later in 1992, Compton received a new heart. He needed another donor heart in 2008 when the first one failed.

Compton took up golf after his first transplant as a way to exercise. It’s turned into much, much more.

“This game has been such a rehab for life for me, where I could go out and not think about the issues I have,” he said.

Compton had another setback this summer after playing in the PGA Tour’s AT&T National last July when his body rejected his heart, something doctors got under control with additional medicine. He took several weeks off and struggled to find his earlier form until recently. His tie for 18th at Daniel Island was his best placing since the win in Mexico.

“I came in here and just till the end I was pretty frustrated because I really wanted to play well and have a top finish,” Compton said. “At the end of the day, we’re all perfectionists.”

Duke said he’s ready to take once again take on the challenges of the sport’s top series. He might want to circle any events played in South Carolina. Duke’s only other Nationwide victory came at the BMW Classic around Greenville in 2006. He lost in a playoff on this course a year later to Michael Sim when the event was the Palmetto Pride Classic. He’s already planning an early April stop in Hilton Head for next year’s RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links.

“I knew I had some good memories here and I just had to be patient,” Duke said.

That was good advice for everyone who sweated out the final round with their futures on the line.

Hurley was 25th when the tournament began, then bounced back and forth on the qualifying line as the round played out. He seemed destined for disappointment when as David Lingmerth worked his way into second place for a while, but bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes dropped him back into a tie for third - and gave Hurley the last spot by fewer than $6,000 over Nitties.

“It was nice to see the cameras out there,” Hurley said. “I knew I was close.”

 

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."