Niagara Gazette

Sports

May 12, 2013

Golf by Ruggiero: After overcoming heart problems, Compton plays with it

Niagara Gazette — If you like “heart” warming stories, then the tale of PGA tour member Eric Compton is a great place to start. 

The 33-year-old professional was diagnosed as a child with cardiomyopathy, which is an inflamed heart muscle that cannot adequately pump blood through the body. As a result, Compton has endured two heart transplants, the first when he was 12 years old and a second in 2008.

Despite the malady, he succeeded in turning professional in 2001 and began his career on the Nationwide Tour. Last season, he successfully made 16 weekend cuts on the PGA Tour. His best finish was a tie for 13th at the 2012 John Deere Classic.

His underdog charm took yet another upturn two weeks ago when he made news by MISSING the cut by a single stroke at the Zurich Classic. Normally, a missed cut wouldn’t be noteworthy news but the circumstances surrounding his missed cut managed to further increase his fan appeal.

During Thursday’s first round in the event, he turned a par into a double bogey when he called a two-stroke penalty on himself at the seventh hole. The issue arose when Compton hit his drive on the par 5 hole into the water, took a drop, found the green with his third shot, and two-putted for an apparent par.

As he retrieved his ball from the cup, he noticed that he had used an older Titleist model than the 2013 version he'd used to start the round. As such, he was in violation of Rule 33-1 and assessed himself a two-stroke penalty.

No one, except Compton, would have ever known. Instead of playing for big cash on the weekend, exceptional honor sent Compton home sooner than he had planned. Looking for a role model, a true hero? Look no further than Eric Compton, professional golfer.

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