Compton just wants to be another PGA Tour player

By Doug FergusonJanuary 15, 2012, 10:54 pm

HONOLULU - Justin Leonard finished hitting wedges on the range Sunday morning and had moved on to irons as he worked his way through the bag before the final round of the Sony Open. Erik Compton arrived and took the spot next to him.

About 10 minutes later, Leonard was surprised to hear the sound of a shot from over his shoulder. He turned to see Compton bending to tee up another ball.

Youre hitting driver already? Leonard said.

Compton smiled and joked back, I used to come out and just hit four drivers on the Nationwide Tour.

One couldnt help but wonder if that was yet another physical restriction for Compton, who already has had two heart transplants. Turns out it was the design of this range, which has a prevailing left-to-right wind that might lead to bad habits for the shape of his shot.

Compton, though, is used to every query involving his heart.

From the time he played in the 2001 Walker Cup, if not before, his story is well known, and no less amazing.

Because of viral cardiomyopathy as a kid, he had his first heart transplant when he was 12. He suffered a heart attack on Oct. 3, 2007 and drove himself to the hospital with his heart running at 15 percent capacity. His second heart transplant was seven months later and five months later made the cut on the PGA Tour while playing on a sponsors exemption.

The highlight for Compton, at least on the golf course, came last summer when he won the Mexico Open on the Nationwide Tour, which coupled with good results earlier, assured him of finishing in the top 25 on the money list and graduating to the big leagues.

The Sony Open was his 31st start on the PGA Tour, his 20th since getting a third heart, his first as a full-fledged member. As if anyone could doubt a fighting spirit, he was headed toward a missed cut until finishing birdie-eagle to make the cut on the number.

With another cut in effect Saturday, Compton made a 10-foot birdie on the last hole that pushed him through to Sunday. It was worth another round, a small example of how the 32-year-old from Miami just keeps going.

There have been suggestions of a book, perhaps even a movie, of his life.

Hollywood would have no trouble finding the storybook ending. Going through a heart transplant to be a college success and play in the Walker Cup. Surviving a second heart transplant. Returning to play golf. Winning on the Nationwide Tour. Reaching the PGA Tour.

Where does it end?

I dont think my story is quite done yet, Compton said. I think sometimes Hollywood wants an ending, and something thats going to see is never good enough. You have to win a PGA event, and then you have to win a major, and then you have to win a Grand Slam, and then youve got to be the president of the United States.

Its just a tough story to write because its still in the process, Compton said.

The hype over books and movies has subsided recently, which is OK with Compton. For all the trauma he has endured, despite a road to the PGA Tour unmatched by anyone in history, what appeals to him is the feel of a crisp shot, the satisfaction of making a big putt, a number on the card, a spot on the leader board.

I just really want to be able to compete and be able to make a difference, he said.

One of these days, Compton will get the same questions as most everyone else on the PGA Tour'details of the round, key shots, being in contention, coping with nerves going into the weekend with a chance.

Hes different, though, because while he wants to be a golfer and achieve as much as he can, he has a story to tell about transplants. If nothing else, Compton can inspire hope.

He has a partnership with Genetec, which uses human genetic information to develop medicine to treat serious or life-threatening conditions. Compton describes it as a perfect fit.

Were trying to promote more organ donor awareness and trying to get more people to donate organs because theres a shortage, he said. By me playing and being able to share my story, I think people will realize that it really is a real thing, and it affects normal people every day. So I think thats kind of the two sides of me'the player and the transplant side to it.

Ive done a good job of being able to balance that when I get on the golf course, he said. I just feel like a regular person, and being able to play successful and good golf for me is just being healthy.

But he is finding some normalcy in the clubhouse, on the putting green, at lunch, on the golf course.

When I go in the locker room, they just look at me like Im a regular player, he said. None of the players ever ask me, and I kind of respect that because they understand that Im getting that on the other end. But I kind of blend in. Im not like a superstar that people think. Im just a regular guy, and I look like a regular guy.

Compton cant think of an interview when someone didnt mention his heart, unless it was a reporter that didnt have the background or didnt have a clue. Thats OK. He expects to get that as long as hes playing golf, and he doesnt mind talking about it.

Part of him looks forward to the day when he gets the same questions that Jeff Maggert received on Saturday after tying for the lead or Brendon de Jonge on Friday after he switched back to his old putter and shot 62.

Or maybe not.

When I see some interviews, they can be boring to me, he said. I mean, how much can you talk about golf?

Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

“I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

“Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

“Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “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.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:



Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.