Compton serving higher purpose with new foundation

By Randall MellFebruary 13, 2015, 10:20 pm

In the months after his first heart transplant as a child, Erik Compton’s face and body bloated disturbingly.

The severe reaction to the operation and the heart medications made it difficult on a 12-year-old.

He looked so weird to other kids.

“I remember when we were out, kids would stare at him, laugh at him,” says Eli Compton, Erik’s mother. “It was really tough.”

When Erik was ready to go back to school after his first surgery, he walked up on a stage so he could explain to the entire student body why he looked the way he did. His parents and school officials thought it would help other students to know why he looked so oddly different. They also thought it would help spare Erik the pain of unrelenting curiosity.

“Today, Erik looks at pictures of himself from back then and cringes,” Eli said.

Erik’s story and experiences are a benefit to children and adults preparing for organ transplants, or recovering from them. His profile as a professional golfer elevates his message. He’s making the most of that with the formation of the new Erik Compton Foundation, an organization that will launch its mission in South Florida on March 9 with the Erik Compton Foundation Golf Classic at International Links Miami – Melreese.

“Erik’s very interested in helping medical research, organ donor education and especially in helping and encouraging kids,” Eli said. “Having gone through it all as a boy, he understands.”

Since he was 10 years old, back when he was waiting for a heart donor and his first transplant, Compton has been getting up in front of people to talk about the importance of organ donation. When he was sickly and needed a transplant, Eli would take him to seminars and meetings, where he would speak in front of doctors, other medical industry members and the public at large about the importance of organ donation.

“Erik’s used to being on stage, telling his story,” Eli said.

Compton’s inaugural Golf Classic, scheduled the day after the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral, benefits Erik’s foundation and the First Tee of Miami-Dade.

Jim Furyk, Pat Perez, Hall of Famer Chi Chi Rodriguez, former Miami Heat players Alonzo Mourning and Ray Allen and former New York Yankees pitcher Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez are among celebrity participants in the outing.

Compton, 35, has long been active with Donate Life and the Transplant Foundation of Miami, an organization Eli served for 23 years, leading it as executive director before retiring. Erik is going to play his Golf Classic alongside Anna King as an honoree. She’s a Houston-area teenager he met two years ago, when he was playing the Shell Houston Open. She was 13 then, waiting for a heart transplant, and close to the same age Compton was when he underwent the first of his two heart transplants. She’s recuperating from her first transplant six months ago and leads her own cause: “Humor Heals the Heart, the Anna King Project.”

“Erik sees that `Here’s another kid who was like me,’ and he thinks her story is so uplifting,” Eli said.

The Erik Compton Foundation is very much a family affair.

After sleeping on the floor at the foot of Erik’s bed following his first heart transplant, Eli has been on her own mission to help transplant patients and their families. After joining the Transplant Foundation of Miami, she was a force in helping build the Transplant House, rooms on the University of Miami campus for families of patients undergoing transplants.

While Eli and Erik’s father, Peter, have been involved in Erik’s emergence as a top golfer since his rise to the No. 1 junior in the game, they’ve been integrally involved in organ transplant causes long before that. They’ve been models of giving for their son to watch.

“Erik knows he was given an opportunity, and there’s a purpose in it, a higher purpose,” Eli said.

The Erik Compton Foundation is Erik’s vision of golf with that higher purpose. For more information about the Golf Classic or the Erik Compton Foundation, go to www.erikcompton.com or email erikcomptonfoundation@gmail.com.

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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."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.