Notes Erik Compton to pay tribute to heart donor

By Associated PressJune 3, 2009, 4:00 pm
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DUBLIN, Ohio ' If not for a 28-year-old named Isaac, Erik Compton would not be alive.
 
So when Compton had the opportunity to play on a sponsor exemption this week at the Memorial Tournament in suburban Columbus ' where Isaac lived before he was killed in a hit-and-run accident ' it seemed like a fitting tribute.
 
Comptons heart, the third that has beat in his chest, is Isaacs.
 
I wrote (Isaacs family) a letter and said that Id be honoring him and making this a memorable week because it is ironic that I do have a heart from somebody who is from this town, Compton said Wednesday. This week I want to perform as best as I can and keep that the focus.
 
The 29-year-old Compton has survived two transplants since he was diagnosed with an enlarged heart when he was a child. He received his first transplant when he was 12; it belonged to a 15-year-old girl named Jannine.
 
After a glittering college career at Georgia, he turned pro. He played on a sponsor exemption at the 2002 Memorial and missed the cut, moving on to the mini-tours to hone his game.
 
Then in October 2007 he felt another heart attack coming on. His transplanted heart had lasted 16 years.
 
Enter Isaac, killed while riding his motorcycle. One life ended, another was extended.
 
Compton was in a hospital room a year ago during the Memorial, recovering from his second transplant surgery.
 
He failed to get his PGA Tour card by one stroke last fall hes played in three events this year, all on sponsors exemptions. Comptons wife, Barbara, gave birth to daughter Petra on Feb. 22. Just a few weeks later, he made the cut at the Honda.
 
His life is full, and full of promise.
 
Right now Im pretty much healed, he said. Six more months and Ill be stronger than I am now.
 
He hopes to play well in the Memorial, which starts Thursday. Then he plans to meet with Isaacs family.
 
Weve had some contact and theyre well aware of who I am and Im aware of who they are, Compton said. Its a very, very strong family. Theyre a very spiritual family. And theyre very understanding of what Im trying to do ' trying to live life the way their son would have wanted.
 

 
NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Theres something about a traditional, tree-lined Midwestern course that Zach Johnson likes.
 
This is what I grew up on, he said Wednesday, a day before the opening round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village. I love the tree lines. I love the bentgrass. I love the fast greens, the substantial rough. I just like how you have to plot your way around it.
 
Yet the problem for the Iowa native is that he has never won on such a course. His five wins on Tour are the BellSouth (Georgia), Masters (Georgia), AT&T (Georgia), Valero (Texas) and Sony Open (Hawaii).
 
I havent had a whole lot of stellar finishes in the north, Johnson said. I finished second here once (two shots back of winner Carl Pettersson in 2006). I dont know if Ive had any other top-10s up north.
 

 
HONOREES: Each year the Memorial honors players and contributors who have helped make the game what it is. This years honorees are JoAnne Carner, who won 43 times on the LPGA, and Jackie Burke Jr., winner of 17 PGA Tour titles including two majors.
 
Carner was known as a free spirit who would banter with pro-am partners, fellow competitors and galleries. During honoree ceremonies on Tuesday near the 18th green, she said one of her nicknames was Shank.
 
She related how, after she repeatedly had trouble with wedge shots near an elevated green, a playing partner asked if she might just try some other club.
 
Why? Im just now getting the hang of this one, she cracked.
 
Plaques bearing the honorees likenesses are mounted in a small area near the first tee at Muirfield Village.
 

 
QUOTABLE: Rocco Mediate, on whether the Memorial serves as preparation for the U.S. Open: I would never say Im using it more to prepare for the U.S. Open. Im using the Memorial to try to win the Memorial.
 

 
CH-CH-CH-CHANGES: Course designer Jack Nicklaus admits to tinkering with his layout at Muirfield Village. Every year, it seems, he makes changes. Some years the changes are more dramatic than others.
 
He made only two minor tweaks to the course since the 2008 Memorial. On both the 11th and 18th holes, he slightly raised the front of each green to allow for additional pin placements and to prevent approach shots from spinning all the way down the hills leading up to both.
 
We didnt really do anything significant from last year, Nicklaus said.
 
Oh, he also OKd about four miles of drainage pipe being put into the fairways. After heavy rainfall throughout Wednesdays Skins Game at the course, those pipes got their first workout during competition.
 

 
RAIN GAUGE: A cold front hit the course just early Wednesday afternoon, accompanied by heavy rain. The forecast calls for a slight chance of rain for Thursdays opening round, sunny conditions on Friday and Saturday and a chance of a shower on Sunday. Temperatures will rise into the 70s throughout the tournament.
 

 
DIVOTS: Defending champion Kenny Perry has made 15 consecutive cuts at Muirfield Village, dating to 1992 ' the year after winning his first of three Memorials. That same 1992 Memorial was also the last time the tournament had a playoff. The 16-year stretch without a playoff is the longest on the PGA Tour. Trevor Immelman withdrew due to tendinitis in his left wrist and was replaced by Jesper Parnevik. Cliff Kresge took Dean Wilsons place. Six players have won the Memorial more than once, and its an impressive list: Tiger Woods and Kenny Perry (three times each), Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Greg Norman and Tom Watson (twice apiece).
 
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  • 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."

    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.