ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Georgia (AP) ― Erik Compton is happy with where he is in golf, and he’s not referring to his 5-under 65 on Thursday for a share of the lead in the McGladrey Classic.
A return to Sea Island provides an occasion to take stock of how far he has come in the last 13 years, and what Compton refers to as the “hurdles” he didn’t anticipate.
There’s a medical term for these hurdles. It’s called a second heart transplant.
“I’m almost 35 years old. I’ve had a good career in golf, really,” he said. “Even though I’ve had some time off, I’ve been able to support myself and have a good life.”
Korea’s Kim Whee watches his shot down the 18th fairway at the McGladrey Classic on Thursday. (AP-Yonhap)
Compton remarkably earned a PGA Tour card just four years after he drove himself to the hospital while suffering a heart attack, dodging death until he received a second transplant. He now is in his fourth straight season on golf’s toughest circuit, and he has shown steady improvement.
The next step is to win, and Compton has been around long enough not to get overly excited about a good start.
He opened with a pair of birdies in the morning chill on the Seaside Course at Sea Island, dropped only one shot and joined Sea Island resident Brian Harman, Michael Thompson and Will MacKenzie in the lead.
Chesson Hadley was among six players one shot behind. More than half of the field was at par or better on a gentle day for scoring.
“I expect I should win this year. That’s a goal of mine,” Compton said. “It’s always been a goal, but I think every time I get on the course it becomes more of a realistic expectation.”
Compton first played Sea Island when he competed in the SEC Championship while at Georgia in 2001.