On third heart, Compton's dreams coming true

By Doug FergusonJune 29, 2011, 11:03 pm

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Erik Compton is among the elite on the PGA Tour this week at the AT&T National, even though he has been in a league of his own for about as long as he’s been playing golf.

Compton is in the same group with Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan for the first two days at Aronimink. One of them is a former U.S. Open champion who rose as high as No. 2 in the world. Another played in The Ryder Cup and won a World Golf Championship last year.

And the third? “Everybody knows I’m the guy with two hearts,” Compton said.

It’s a story that has been told for the last three years, ever since the 31-year-old Compton again defied logic, if not death, by getting a second heart transplant and returning five months later to get through the first stage of Q-school. And it keeps getting more amazing.

Compton shot a 65 on Sunday in the final round of the Mexican Open and won the Nationwide Tour event, moving him up to No. 2 on the money list and all but assuring he will finish among the top 25 this year and earn his card on the PGA Tour.

His identity won’t change. He will always be the guy who after his second transplant said, “I’ve been dead. Twice.”

Compton wouldn’t have it any other way. The attention he receives whenever he plays allows him to spread the word on organ transplants, such as the heart he received when he was 12, and the second heart he was given on May 20, 2008.

“The doctors are shocked and people in the transplant world are shocked,” Compton said. “I’m shocked because I always said I would be on tour and play, but now it’s a reality. My dream is finally coming true, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. I have a new life and I have a bright future, and it’s just … I mean, it’s just crazy. I can’t even explain it.”

It’s even harder to fathom for those who have seen this story unfold.

Charlie DeLucca, head of the Dade Amateur Golf Association in Miami, still remembers when Compton showed up to play and his parents asked if he could take a pull cart. DeLucca was skeptical, unaware that the boy had been diagnosed at age 9 with cardiomyopathy, an enlarging of the heart that hinders its ability to pump blood.

The first transplant occurred a few years later, and DeLucca figured he’d never see him again.

Compton, as he has done his entire life, proved otherwise.

“He’s not even supposed to be here,” DeLucca said. “He just never lost his determination.”

DeLucca had his eyes glued to the Internet on Sunday as he tried to watch the scores being posted from the Mexican Open. There were a few glitches, and some uncertainty, until it was final. Compton was a winner, and on his way to the PGA Tour.

“The second greatest thing is that he won,” DeLucca said. “The first great thing is he’s alive. And now, we’re really going to see what he’s going to do. He’s going to play on the biggest stage. He can play. It’s not luck. He’s been a winner all his life.”

What happens this week is irrelevant.

Some players win for the first time on the PGA Tour and take the next week off to recover. Compton won in Mexico and flew to Philadelphia, but not before losing his wallet in the airport, leaving him no cash to get bottled water or a sandwich for the flight.

This will be his fifth straight week playing golf, and he has posted 12 of his last 16 rounds in the 60s. In four PGA Tour starts this year, he has made the cut every time.

The bigger picture is next year, when he gets a full year on the PGA Tour, allowing him to be slightly more selective and plan for more rest that he needs to accommodate a heart that has been in his body for only three years.

“I’m very comfortable with what I’ve been through and who I am as an individual, and I know that I’m going to get attention because of having the two heart transplants,” he said. “I’m not so much of a sideshow freak anymore. I’ve proved that I can play on tour, so that does give a lot more confidence.”

Even so, Compton still has a hard time believing everything that transpired.

After the first transplant, he became the top-ranked junior in America and went to Georgia, eventually playing in the Walker Cup against a team that featured Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell. As a pro, he won tournaments in Canada and on the Hooters Tour, but he never made it to the big leagues. He had a heart attack in October 2007 and somehow drove himself to the hospital, narrowly avoiding death.

Doctors found a donor nearly 20 months later, and he went through a 14-hour operation. Everyone figured that was the end of his competitive golf, except for Compton.

“I made a call four months after my transplant to just about everybody in the country in golf and said that I was going to make a comeback, and there were very few people that were willing to take a chance on me,” he said.

He had support of his parents and his wife, whom he met in the hospital. Barbara was pregnant with a girl, Petra, as Compton was getting his second heart transplant. And there was Michael Hanzman, recently appointed a judge in Florida, who backed him financially and asked for nothing in return.

“I get chills thinking about it,” he said.

Compton returns to Florida next week for an annual procedure to test the strength of his heart. He will take more breaks this year because he can, although it would help to stay as high on the Nationwide Tour money list to help his position in the big leagues next year.But he still wants to play on the PGA Tour when he can get a sponsor’s exemption.

Membership is nice. Compton wants to win. That’s the next step.

Someone suggested that his story was worthy of a movie and asked Compton who should play the leading role. His friends have always said he looks like Paul Giamatti, and Compton said he saw the actor in the airport on his way to Mexico.

“I don’t think there will be a movie,” Compton said. “I think movies … you have to have something that’s maybe a little bit more unrealistic. Maybe if they make a fictional story and have me winning three U.S. Opens or something.”

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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”