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Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014
Golf

PGA golfer Compton shows plenty of heart

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 10:39 AM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -

Erik Compton is a walking billboard for organ donation and sheer determination.

He's also at the top of the Greenbrier Classic leaderboard.

Playing on a late sponsor exemption, the 30-year-old double heart transplant recipient shot a 7-under-par 63 on Thursday to share the first-round lead with rookie Matt Every in the inaugural tournament.

Compton spent eight straight days doing yard work at home in Miami before he got the call Saturday to play in the tournament. He's making the most of his late invite, overcoming a slow start with nine birdies on the Old White course.

"You know, some guys miss six, seven cuts in a row and then win," Compton said. "I know I'm a good player, and I have a lot of the adversity in front of me with the game and health. But I always feel like if I stick in there and keep trying, something eventually good is going to happen."

George McNeill, Pat Perez and Jeff Overton opened with 64s.

Compton was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy at age 9. The disease inflames the heart and leaves it unable to pump as hard as it needs to. His first transplant came three years later and another occurred in 2008.

He didn't think he'd play golf again and even sold his equipment after the second transplant. But his health improved quickly and he returned to the game within weeks.

This season he has made four cuts in seven starts.

In the past he might have denied that his double transplants would have been a bigger deal than shooting a low score, but not now.

"It affects so many people," Compton said.

WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN: Yani Tseng and Katherine Hull shot 4-under 68s for the first-round lead at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. Tied for second at 69 is Brittany Lincicome of Seminole.

U.S. SENIOR OPEN: Bruce Vaughan took advantage of cool morning conditions with an opening-round 4-under 66 to take a two-shot lead in the first round in Sammamish, Wash.

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