The wonder of US Open qualifying


Monday was an exhilarating throwback day in golf.

Without live scoring at 13 U.S. Open sectional qualifying sites around the country, loved ones waited anxiously by telephones for news from their players. This is how golf news traveled before television and the Internet.

The call Erik Compton made home to Miami might have been repeated by the 58 players who made it through qualifying on Monday, but no call was more emotional.

“Erik was crying on the telephone, he was so excited that he made it,” said Eli Compton, Erik’s mother. “We were all screaming when he called, we were so excited.”

Compton, 30, claimed one of the three spots available at Springfield (Ohio) Country Club, advancing in a three-for-two playoff. Compton’s inspired so many people with his story of perseverance after two heart transplants, and now his story gains a new chapter as he earns his way into his first U.S. Open.

Eli and Peter, Erik’s parents, were babysitting Erik’s 1-year-old daughter, Petra Ella, back in Miami. Erik and his wife, Barbara, were both in Ohio with Erik playing on a sponsor’s exemption last week at the Memorial.

Eli believes anything’s possible with her son, but she didn’t expect this news. After shooting 82 Sunday at the Memorial and complaining of exhaustion, she wasn’t sure Erik would even be able to play the 36-hole sectional qualifier at Springfield. Fatigue is an issue with Erik, who’s living with his third different heart, but he added to his miracle story by qualifying for his first major championship.

“Erik was so excited he called his brother, Christian, in Finland, forgetting that it was 2 in the morning over there,” Eli said. “He just kept saying, `I’m going to the U.S. Open!’”

It was a refrain echoed on phone lines across the world on Monday.