Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Erik Compton: A golf story with heart

The most emotionally compelling story in golf this year doesn't end with someone holding a trophy.

It ended, at least for the moment, last Saturday when 28-year-old Erik Compton (right, in a file photo) missed advancing to the finals of PGA Tour qualifying school by one shot.

It was probably the three-putt par from 20 feet on the 16th hole that did Compton in during the final round of the second-stage qualifier where he finished tied for 22nd, knowing only the top 20 finishers (and ties) would advance.

Still, the achievement far outweighs the disappointment.

That's because on May 20, Compton underwent a 14-hour heart transplant that saved his life.

It was his second transplant, his first coming when he was 12 years old, and six months later Compton was chasing a spot on the PGA Tour. His is a remarkable and inspiring story. A former All-American at Georgia, Compton was bitterly disappointed when he talked to reporters after his near miss finish in Florida last Saturday.

His life could have changed had he reached the finals of tour school. He admitted to thinking about health insurance and family matters and other things while he was playing and how could he not? The pressure, he said, was too much.

But Compton is alive and playing golf, looking forward to his wife giving birth to their first child in February.

The disappointment will fade. His life, thankfully, will go on.