Nobody really gave the guy a chance. It was a good story, sure. And yeah, he was healthy and playing the game he loved. But how was a guy playing on his third heart really going to compete in the most grueling hike in sports?
Erik Compton made us all realize how wrong we were. Seven shots back in the final round of the first stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School, the 28-year-old, who's just five months removed from his second heart replacement, pulled out the improbable -- actually managing to rally back.
With all the bad luck that has landed Compton's way over the years, the gods shined on him a little in the final round -- gusty winds and a little rain, just the conditions he would need to make up a deficit like that, arrived. If you ever watch British Open interviews, those players five or six shots back talk about how they need bad weather in hopes of posting a low number while the leaders struggle with the conditions.
Compton did just that, with a four-under 68, the best round of the day at Crandon Park Golf Club in Key Biscayne, Florida, to land in a tie at 23rd, the last possible spot to advance to second stage.
"I'm jacked up. I'm excited. I'm almost in disbelief," Compton said. "Everybody counted me out, and I survived again."
It is strange to hear Compton use the term 'survived' after all he's been through. A heart replacement at age 12 and another one just five months ago after he suffered a heart attack following a Nationwide Event, this is a true story of survival in all its wonderful glory.
The PGA Tour Q-School is where nerves go to die, yet Compton found motivation from none other than The Golf Channel.
All the commentators had the same message: It was great that he was playing, but there was no way he could overcome seven strokes.
"It really motivated me," said Compton, who received special permission from the Pga Tour to use a golf cart and to continue taking banned anti-rejection pills. "People always want to count me out."
Compton had struggled most of the week at Crandon Park, with rounds of 76-75-77 before his bogey-free final round. After he finished, the Compton Camp had to sit around and wait for the rest of the golfers to file in, hoping that the winds had bothered the rest of the field.
When the news came in that he had qualified, Compton's father, Peter, was so overcome with emotion he had to leave.
Erik Compton and his wife, Barbara, who's pregnant with the couple's first child, hugged and kissed, embracing a moment that seemed impossible months earlier.
"I can't remember the last time I felt this good," Compton said.
In a time when athletes are spitting in the faces of females, getting in fights with bodyguards and doing just about anything to cover up the fact that they're cheating, finding stories like this is what reminds people (like myself) how great the games really are. A true survivor, someone we can use as personal motivation, went out and basically said "to hell with what you think, I'm going to do this." He did it, and I think FanHouse nation is proud to give you a standing applause. A golf clap just isn't enough.
Erik Compton, On His Third Heart, Makes Up Seven Shots To Advance at Q-School originally appeared on Golf FanHouse on 2008-10-28T13:15:00 00:00. Please see our terms for use of feeds.