Compton gives fellow heart patient a thrill

By Associated PressMarch 6, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Honda ClassicPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. ' Erik Compton gave the gallery a polite wave when he reached the 18th green Friday afternoon, so the kid who shuffled alongside him did the same thing.
When Compton shot his arms skyward as his final putt dropped for birdie, the kid did that, too.
And Compton fought through fatigue to walk 18 holes, so the kid somehow managed to do it with him.
John Paul George
John Paul George checks the wind Friday alongside Erik Compton. (Getty Images)
A few days ago, Compton had never heard of John Paul George, a 14-year-boy who doctors said should have never been born. John Paul ' named for a pope, not The Beatles as is typically assumed ' is 4-foot-1 and has a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, meaning the left side of the heart hasnt formed properly.
But in the second round of the Honda Classic, a two-time heart transplant recipient and a boy who may eventually need one walked side by side, the intertwining of their stories adding yet another element to Comptons comeback tale.
The last putt I made, it was just great, Compton said. Hell remember that forever.
Indeed, it meant plenty to John Paul, who was the standard bearer in Comptons group at PGA National.
This is the best day of my life, he said.
It was a pretty good day for Compton as well.
His 20-foot birdie capped his second straight round of 69, putting him at 2 under and squarely in the mix at the Honda, the second PGA Tour event hes played since undergoing his second heart transplant last year.
Through 36 holes, Compton was five shots behind leader Y.E. Yang.
Compton finished the final two holes of his first round Friday morning, after darkness suspended play the night before. He carded two pars, then climbed as high as a tie for second at one point in the second round before dropping off a bit.
Every players trying to make the cut. Sometimes its more nerve-racking to make the cut than it is when youre actually in contention, Compton said. I felt more comfortable than I have in years.
With his newborn daughter and family with him, Compton went out in 2-under 33 in the second round, and only had one big problem ' hitting his tee ball into the water on the par-3 17th, the end of the famed Bears Trap at PGA National, which has a Jack Nicklaus redesign.
So he drilled an 8-iron into a hard wind from 123 yards on the finishing hole, took his putter out of John Pauls tiny hands, and rolled in a birdie to get one of those lost shots back, plus take a neat boost into the third round.
I had a triple-bogey and a double-bogey in two days and Im still under par, still there, and have a chance to play well on the weekend, Compton said.
And hes got a new fan.
Derek George, John Pauls father, approached Compton on the putting green Wednesday and told him his sons story. When Annette George was pregnant with the boy, doctors advised the parents-to-be that their son would have, at best, minimal chance at survival.
This is a very rare thing and most kids dont have it, Derek George recalls doctors saying. So its better to terminate this and not go through all this hassle. But then my wife said, you know, lets give John Paul a chance. Lets give him life.
So they did. A three-stage series of operations followed, but John Paul hasnt needed to undergo any procedures in the last seven years. Hes home-schooled, a decision his parents made to minimize the chance of picking up things like colds and flu bugs from other kids, and by the end of Fridays round, John Paul was exhausted.
When Comptons group stopped in the 18th fairway for their approach shots, John Paul took the opportunity to sprawl on the grass for a quick rest.
I walked a lot, thats for sure, John Paul said.
Compton could be riding in a cart while playing now to conserve his strength ' the PGA Tour has given him permission to do so ' but the South Florida native said he wants to walk so transplant patients can see what is possible. John Paul could have ridden as well, and his father even offered to carry him at times Friday.
The boy always declined.
Its like me winning the Masters or something like that, to see this kid alive and so happy, said Derek George, who is writing a book about his sons battle. Just look at him laughing and smiling on the golf course. Its wonderful.
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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

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    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

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    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.