Erik Compton is a walking, talking medical miracle


Erik Compton is a walking, talking medical miracle

Len Shapiro

Erik Compton looked tired late Tuesday afternoon. He had just played nine holes in a warm-up round for the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club, followed by a little practice and a half-dozen media interviews.

On Wednesday, there was more of the same, as well as a visit to the Washington Hospital Center in the morning to meet with transplant patients and staff members, the better to promote organ and tissue awareness.

Compton is a walking, talking prime example of the sort of medical miracles transplants can accomplish. Hes had two heart transplants, one at the age of 12, the other in 2008 at the age of 28. Now, four years later, he is a full-fledged member of the PGA Tour, playing in his rookie season at age 32.

Im just a regular guy playing golf, he insisted during an interview. But I guess maybe Im not that regular.

He is also a gifted golfer, a man who visualized returning to the game he loves while recovering from his second transplant four years ago, even if most of his doctors told him they didnt think it was possible.

Hes been through more and overcome more than anyone I have ever known, his long-time teacher, Miami-based Jim McLean, told earlier this year. I remember visiting him in his hospital room and the doctors told him he was pretty much through with professional golf. He has already achieved more than anyone could have expected. His comeback, its unreal.

Certainly, its a remarkable story for the former University of Georgia All-American and member of the 2001 Walker Cup team.

In 2008, Compton was playing in a Nationwide Tour event when he duck hooked a drive late in his round and missed the cut. He flew back home to Miami and a few days later was out fishing with friends when he began to suffer intense pain in his shoulder blades. He was taken to the hospital and told hed had a major heart attack, with a blocked artery.

He was soon on a transplant list, eventually receiving the heart of a 26-year-old man who had been killed when his bicycle was hit by a pickup truck. Within a year, Compton was back playing competitive golf again. In 2009, he made two cuts on the PGA Tour playing on sponsors exemptions and in 2010, he played 36 holes in a single day to qualify for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

In 2011, he played in 18 Nationwide Tour events and finished 13th on the money list, earning an automatic promotion to the PGA Tour. His season also included a victory in the Mexican Open when he shot 65 in the final round.

This year, hes played in 15 events and made ten cuts and about 230,000. His main goal now is to keep his card for the 2013 season. A victory would obviously give him a two-year exemption. Without a win, he would have to earn about 700,000 to keep his card for next season.

Despite all those made cuts, his rookie year has been something of a disappointment if only because his best finish has been a tie for 26th in the Honda Classic just up the road from his home in Coral Gables, Fla. Hes shown flashes of brilliance, including a 67 in the first round of the Memorial three weeks ago, but his weekend scoresincluding three straight 75s in that event-- have been a problem all season.

Stamina is always a little bit of a factor, he said, but Ive also made some bad decisions on club selection. Theres also something to be said for playing a course four or five times and getting to know it. As a rookie, its always hard because you really dont know the lay of the land.

You know how you feel when you eat a meal and youre satisfied? I just want to feel that way after a tournament. I havent felt that way this year. My game has been hit and miss, sporadic. Im hoping thats going to change.

Still, Compton is hardly a complainer. He knows hes got to play better to keep his Tour playing privileges, particularly with his short game. He also knows hes a role model for so many others, a responsibility he does not take lightly.

Theres part of me thats chasing to do something that nobody has done, he said earlier in the season. At the end of the day, I dont care if I make a lot of money. I still want to be in my back yard hosing my plants and hosing down the patio and doing the simple things.

I think the talent is there. Theres a lot more to this game than just talent, but I cant wait as much as you can.

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John Wall responds to NBA GMs survey: 'That's just more motivation'

John Wall responds to NBA GMs survey: 'That's just more motivation'

Most rankings put out by online outlets are simply material for page clicks and fodder for debate among fans. Few carry the weight of a survery of league general managers.

But even the opinions of those who construct rosters can't necessarily be taken as gospel. This year's NBA GM survey put out by included some things Wizards point guard John Wall just doesn't agree with.

Wall wasn't even listed among the best four point guards in the league. While he was ranked as the second-fastest player with the ball, he was nowhere to be found among the best passers. Not even under the honorable mentions of the 'also received votes' category.

That last one irked Wall more than any. He spoke on the subject after the Wizards' win over the Raptors in their preseason finale on Friday night.

"I see it every day on my Twitter. It's funny. I enjoy it. A guy that finished in the top two of assists last year can't pass? I guess so," he said.

Wall, who has averaged 10 assists per game in each of the last two seasons, says he is no stranger to being overlooked. 

"I've been an All-Star and have done this and that in my career. I think I'm doing a pretty good job of something," he said.

"Everything anybody has to say about John Wall, it's never in the top of five category of anything. That's just more motivation for me. They have their opinion. I know what I do. My teammates believe in me. They trust me and see everything I do and all the hard work I put in. One day they will respect me."

[RELATED: NBA GMs pick Wizards for playoffs, but overlook John Wall]

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McClellan, House, Ochefu make Wizards' final 15 after cuts

McClellan, House, Ochefu make Wizards' final 15 after cuts

Rookies Daniel Ochefu, Sheldon McClellan and Danuel House didn't play much to end the preseason for the Wizards, but all three free agents made the cut as the roster now stands at the league maximum of 15, league sources tell

The Wizards finished the preseason 4-3 after Friday's 119-82 rout of the Toronto Raptors. Ochefu played only six minutes and House and McClellan didn't touch the court.

All three have non-guaranteed deals, meaning the Wizards have the flexibility to waive them at any time without penalty before the second week of January when their deals become fully guaranteed.

Casper Ware, Johnny O'Bryant and Jarell Eddie, who appeared to have an inside track because he played here last season, had a $175,000 guarantee and shined in Las Vegas summer leauge play, were waived. 

Ochefu, McClellan and House all received partial guarantees to attend training camp.