There’s nothing fairly like the thrill of taking part in on the PGA Tour for Erik Compton.
The 41-year-old two-time heart transplant recipient, who has spent most of his time competing on the Korn Ferry Tour the previous 5 years, can inform the distinction primarily based on his heart price alone.
“I looked at my watch, it was about 140, and when I play on the Korn Ferry Tour it’s about 107,” he stated. “Maybe I need to jog around the block a little bit before the first round over there.”
This week his heart is the place he feels actually belongs. The 2014 U.S. Open runner-up is taking part in on a uncommon sponsor’s exemption at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, simply his third PGA Tour begin since 2016, and he’s making the most of the alternative, opening with a bogey-free 5-under 65. Compton drained his longest birdie putt of the day at the first from 13 ft and then was locked in from inside 10 ft at Colonial Country Club. It didn’t harm that he hit a bunch tight, together with sticking it from 180 yards to 4 ft at 17.
“Yeah, it feels really good. I put in a lot of work on the putting,” he stated. “I’ve been working with Phil Long with Axis One and grinding away and trying to get that right. I think that’s been the missing part of my game. I’m always a scrambler, so my chipping is good and if I can hit a few more fairways, I think I’ll have a good week.”
With streaks of grey in his beard, Compton celebrated his twenty ninth anniversary for his mixed transplants final week. He nonetheless has to pop a rotating assortment of greater than 20 capsules a day to maintain his immune system in test, however it’s the life he’s discovered to reside with for all these years.
“I’m a fighter, I’m a grinder. I put one foot in front of the other,” he stated. “I’m just blessed to be alive really. Spent most of my life with somebody else’s hearts. It’s a challenge, but I do the best that I can.”
Erik Compton hits from the tough on the 18th gap throughout the first spherical of the 2021 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
What’s been robust to reside with is the lack of his PGA Tour standing. Most of his mates are nonetheless taking part in there and the purses on the Korn Ferry Tour are a fraction of what he used to play for till he misplaced his card after ending 173rd in the FedEx Cup standings.
He appeared on the verge of returning to the Tour for the 2019-20 season. He was the chief heading into the last spherical at the Korn Ferry Tour’s 2019 Wichita Open. Weather delayed the begin of the last spherical and he was informed that the occasion was going to be lowered to 54 holes and to face by for the trophy ceremony. He already had referred to as his mother and father to inform them his first-place paycheck would safe his PGA Tour card.
Then, match organizers decided there was a window to play. He misplaced in a playoff and completed 39th on the KFT cash listing and was sentenced to a different season in golf’s minor leagues, which was prolonged even additional when the international pandemic froze participant standing for 2021. He has simply two top-25 finishes in 25 begins on the 2020-21 wraparound season.
Compton’s inspirational story used to generate a plethora of sponsor invitations, however these alternatives have dried up. So, he jumped at the likelihood to compete at the Charles Schwab Challenge this week and reconnect with previous mates. His daughter, Petra, requested if he had seen Jordan Spieth, who was the solely participant to higher Compton on Thursday morning with a 7-under 63.
“I thought that I was her biggest fan, but apparently not,” Compton stated.
Still, Compton fights on. It’s what he does, and three extra rounds like the one he performed on Thursday may go a protracted option to bettering his probabilities of a return engagement to the PGA Tour.
“My dream is to be back here and playing full-time again, make another run,” he stated. “Today was one step in the right direction, but I know it’s a long week and I have to get rest and be ready for tomorrow.”