Heart To Heart


The saga of Erik Compton will elevate to yet another level tomorrow when a 14-year-old boy named John Paul George carries the scoring standard for Comptons threesome that is scheduled to go off the first tee at 8:39.
John Paul George was born in North Carolina with a condition called hypoplastic left heart. In laymans terms that means the left side of his heart is dysfunctional and the right side has to pump all the blood and do all the work.
Doctors recommended that his parents, Derek and Annette George of Juno Beach, Fl., abort the pregnancy because the likelihood was that their child would die soon after being born.
That was extremely difficult to hear, Derek George told GolfChannel.com late Thursday.
When they got finished crying, Annette George added, they decided to complete the pregnancy. I just said God has given this child nine months to live inside of me and if thats all there is, so be it, she said. It was just a matter of staying positive and letting that positiveness flow into John Paul.
Before this story proceeds any further, it needs to be pointed out that Erik Compton has survived two heart transplants and is playing with his third heart. Thursday in the first round of the Honda Classic where he is in the field on a sponsors exemption, Compton triple-bogeyed his second hole of the day but fought back to 1-under through seven holes (three shots off the lead) before darkness ended play for the day.
When Honda tournament officials found out about John Pauls condition earlier this week they arranged for him be the standard bearer for Comptons Friday threesome. Compton then met John Paul Wednesday afternoon for the first time and the two spoke for 15 minutes.
When John Paul got home Wednesday he felt as if he had won the lottery, said his father.
So Friday morning there will be local television cameras on hand to record Comptons second round and the biggest day of John Paul Georges life.
Well, actually the second-biggest day. On the day he was born doctors decided he was a good candidate for something called The Norwood Procedure. It saved his life. His parents hadnt even been aware that the procedure existed until after John Paul was delivered.
We waited eight years before deciding to have a child, Annette George said. He is our special gift.
John Paul George is undersized for his age. He is not able to participate in sports that require running. He is home-schooled. And there is no guarantee from doctors that he will live a long life. But, yes, his favorite sport is golf. He works with teaching pro Jeff Leishman at nearby Jupiter Dunes. And, says his dad, he plays to about a 10-handicap.
Were just trying to find a way to get him more distance.
Derek George has written a book about his sons story with the working title, The Miracle of John Paul. He has a publisher but no date for publication. According to Derek George, Jack Nicklaus is aware of John Paul Georges story and has spent time with him at his office.

I think its great that hes going to be out here, Compton said. Its great for this kid.
Man, an excited John Paul George told his father when he found out he was going to carry the standard for Erik Compton, Im really going to be inside the ropes.
Yes, he is.
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