Compton tied for lead at McGladrey through Rd. 1

By Doug FergusonOctober 23, 2014, 10:54 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Erik Compton is happy with where he is in golf, and he's not referring to his 5-under 65 on Thursday for a share of the lead in the McGladrey Classic.

A return to Sea Island provides an occasion to take stock of how far he has come in the last 13 years, and what Compton refers to as the ''hurdles'' he didn't anticipate.

There's a medical term for these hurdles. It's called a second heart transplant.

''I'm almost 35 years old. I've had a good career in golf, really,'' he said. ''Even though I've had some time off, I've been able to support myself and have a good life.''

Compton remarkably earned a PGA Tour card just four years after he drove himself to the hospital while suffering a heart attack, dodging death until he received a second transplant. He now is in his fourth straight season on golf's toughest circuit, and he has shown steady improvement.

The next step is to win, and Compton has been around long enough not to get overly excited about a good start.

He opened with a pair of birdies in the morning chill on the Seaside Course at Sea Island, dropped only one shot and joined Sea Island resident Brian Harman, Michael Thompson and Will MacKenzie in the lead.

Chesson Hadley was among six players one shot behind. More than half of the field was at par or better on a gentle day for scoring.

''I expect I should win this year. That's a goal of mine,'' Compton said. ''It's always been a goal, but I think every time I get on the course it becomes more of a realistic expectation.''


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Compton first played Sea Island when he competed in the SEC Championship while at Georgia in 2001. A few months later, Compton played in the Walker Cup at nearby Ocean Forest.

The first hurdle when he turned pro was realizing that ''everybody out here is really, really, really, really good.'' The more serious hurdle was his heart.

Compton had his first transplant when he 12 because of cardiomyopathy, an enlarging of the heart that hinders its ability to pump blood. He had his second in 2008 and ended that year by making the cut in the final PGA Tour event.

His story never gets old, and Compton is happy to tell it, especially if that means bringing attention to the ''Donate Life America'' campaign. He prefers to look ahead, at the next shot, the next tournament, trying to get the most he can out of his game, just like the guys he is trying to beat.

Compton has reached the FedEx Cup playoff the last two seasons and advanced to the third round at the BMW Championship last month. In the short offseason, he spent more time in the gym trying to get stronger at the recommendation of former Miami Heat guard Ray Allen.

''I went to the gym with him a couple of times and played him for some money games in Miami,'' Compton said. ''He was just trying to motivate me to get in better shape. So I worked out a little bit. And then just played five or six rounds with him before I went back on the road.''

Easy money? Compton smiled.

''I got him five ways one day,'' he said without mentioning a dollar amount.

Compton played on that Walker Cup team with 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover along with Bryce Molder and D.J. Trahan, who both went on to win on the PGA Tour. The Britain & Ireland team featured former world No. 1 Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell, the U.S. Open champion at Pebble Beach.

Compton's hopes were not much different from theirs - turn pro, win tournaments.

''I think when I was younger, I had some unrealistic expectations,'' he said. ''I knew I was a good player. I obviously had some hurdles that I had to deal with in front of me, which I didn't see coming. I didn't know I was going to have to deal with that.''

What's real to him now is being a PGA Tour regular. He's going to the Masters next year for the first time, courtesy of his runner-up finish in the U.S. Open. That remains his biggest highlight in golf.

What's next? He's curious to find out. Compton is learning not to swing so hard to take advantage of his putting stroke.

''I just want to get the ball in play and hit on the green and see where I can go,'' he said. ''And that's difficult to do in four days, and it's proven difficult for a lot of guys who have never won on tour who have great careers. I happen to be one of those guys right now, and I feel like if I can do the things like I did today and get out of my own way, there's no reason I shouldn't continue to progress in this game.''

DIVOTS: Mark Anderson had the first ace in tournament history, a 4-iron from 212 yards on No. 3. ... Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson were in the group at 67, while defending champion Chris Kirk opened with a 68. ... McGladrey extended its title sponsorship through 2020.

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."