Erik Compton Shows Real Heart

“Hooks and Slices” will bring you our view on whats happening in the golf world.

Golf still goes on without Tiger, and this week at the Honda Classic there were plenty of players and stories that were worth following through the weekend. Y.E. Yang of Korea hung on to win and earn a trip to the Masters in addition to a two year exemption and a million bucks. My picks for good stories to follow this week had some success. Ernie Els was T22 and was able to get publicity for Autism Speaks. Darren Clarke started his U.S. tour with a decent outing and finished T44. Young Tadd Fujikawa made the cut and smiled his way to a T52. Unfortunately my two other stories of merit missed the cut, but that does not make David Duval and Paul Goydos any less interesting. We’ll just root for them next time.

There were some nice storylines that NBC/Golf Channel mentioned. It was nice to see Robert Allenby contend in his adopted hometown. Rookie Jeff Klauk finished in fourth. You may not know him but you have seen his dad’s work. He was the superintendent at the TPC Sawgrass until he retired last year; not a bad place to grow up on for a future tour pro.

I feel bad for the winner, Y.E. Wang. He will go down as the winner that received the least amount of press on the tour this year. That is because the real story this week was the journey of Erik Compton. Compton is the tour pro playing on a sponsor’s exemption. He is the guy all the press was following this week. Erik Compton is a medical miracle. He is nine months removed from a heart transplant, his second heart transplant.

Compton received his first heart at twelve years old from a young girl that was killed by a drunk driver. He lived with that heart for sixteen more years while he nurtured his love of golf and graduated from the University of Georgia. Last year he had a massive heart attack and was fortunate enough to get another heart transplant. He worked his way back into shape and was able play on sponsor’s exemptions in Europe and the U.S.

He not only proved to himself and all of us that he has a real golf game, he proved he has real heart. He would like to be known as Erik Compton the golfer, not Erik Compton the golfer with his third heart. He also realizes that is impossible. He is a walking billboard for Organ Donation and an inspirational story worthy of a feature film.

Compton did not have to look too far to see someone that he was inspiring. His standard bearer (sign boy) in the second round was a fourteen year old boy named John Paul George. He was named for a pope, not the Beatles. He also has a heart condition which allows only half his heart to function. He faces a transplant sometime in his life just like Compton. John Paul’s dad contacted Compton and told him his story and they decided to try and let John Paul give it a shot. Compton was given permission to use a cart this week but he declined and walked all four rounds. So in that second round, so did young John Paul. Is there anyone that needs a definition of courage, inspiration or heart? It is these two guys. John Paul was so exhausted afterward he could barely stand. When asked how he felt he replied, “It’s the greatest day of my life.”

Erik Compton is going to Augusta this year, but not to compete. He will be there to accept the Ben Hogan Award for Courage. Maybe next year he will be there playing, that would be great. Maybe he’ll have John Paul on the bag for a round. That would be really great too.

Rich Lerner filed a great report on Compton, check it out.


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