Compton beginning to be known for golf as well as heart

By Rex HoggardJune 26, 2014, 7:34 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – Erik Compton birdied his last four holes Thursday.

Erik Compton is two strokes off the early lead after an opening 68.

Erik Compton is on the cusp of qualifying for his first Open Championship.

Erik Compton’s fifth question following his solid start at the Quicken Loans National may as well have come from one of the team of doctors that have turned the 34-year-old into a medical miracle.

“A lot of coverage of that Open was revolving around you and the heart surgery. What is that like to look back on?” a reporter asked.

Compton could win the last two legs of the Grand Slam this season – an even more amazing feat considering he’s not qualifying to play next month at Royal Liverpool – and lead the U.S. Ryder Cup team to victory in Scotland, and the first question will always be about his two heart transplant surgeries.

It is a reality that, with age, Compton has come to embrace.


Quicken Loans National: Articles, videos and photos


“If I had 18 birdies today it would have been the first question,” he said Thursday at Congressional. “I’m used to it. I know that my heart is always going to be the story, but I think it will be a little less this week. I embrace the story.”

For all the right reasons the fringe golf fan discovered Compton and his amazing story when he took the silver medal at the U.S. Open two weeks ago. Perhaps no one in the history of the game who finished eight strokes out of the lead has received so much attention.

Compton, who needed extra holes at qualifying just to earn a spot at Pinehurst, was gracious and engaging. For a guy who struggles to maintain his energy levels because of the physical limitations of having a transplanted heart, not to mention the pharmacy he must maintain to stay healthy, injected a distinct level of excitement into the U.S. Open proceedings.

 And his golf wasn’t bad, either.

Because of Compton’s inspiring story it’s easy to overlook the fact that he is an extremely gifted player, not to mention a gritty competitor.

Even before his magical week at Pinehurst, Compton was enjoying his best season as a professional. He tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, 12th at the Shell Houston Open and fifth in New Orleans.

“He’s gotten a lot more disciplined. He knows now when to put his foot on the right pedal and when to put the foot on the left pedal,” said Victor Billskoog, Compton’s caddie for the last year. “It’s all experience and discipline. It’s tough to lay back sometimes, but he has gotten very good at it.”

In his third full season on Tour, Compton’s temperament has caught up with all that talent.

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that despite his medical limitations, this week’s Quicken Loans National is his 22nd start of the season, tying him for the second most on Tour.

This week is his third consecutive start, a planned run in an attempt to qualify for the Open Championship. The top four players this week not already exempt to play Hoylake among the top 12 finishers earn a spot at the year’s third major.

“This week is a time for me to really focus on getting the job done and try to get in the British Open,” said Compton, who was tied for third when he completed his round.

Although he missed the cut at the Travelers Championship, his first start after the U.S. Open, he had arguably the game’s best putter to fix things last week when he partnered with Brad Faxon at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic.

Literally, Faxon fixed Compton’s putter.

“Somehow it had gotten bent from 3 degrees (of loft) to 1 degree,” Compton explained. “As soon as he picked it up he said, ‘This thing is not right.’”

On Thursday he converted putts from 16, 5 and 14 feet to close his round on his way to 27 putts, and talked – between heart and health questions – about his growing confidence after the U.S. Open.

The player who is batting .500 keeping his Tour card in his career is now on pace to play the third major of his career, earn a spot at the Tour Championship and maybe even change the conversation, however slightly.

He will always be the Tour player who has survived two heart transplant surgeries. The difference now is that in between health queries he is asked an occasional question about his golf.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

Getty Images

PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

Getty Images

Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm