Erik Compton came in second at this year’s U.S. Open, the highest PGA Tour finish of his career. Until then he was best known for requesting the use of a golf cart during Nationwide and PGA Tour event qualifying rounds. Compton has survived two heart transplants.
Compton has played professionally since 2001 on the Nationwide, Canadian and PGA Tours. He tied for second at the Wichita Open in 2004 and won the Mexico Open in 2011. Compton managed a tie for fourth at the Honda Classic last year.
CBS Local Sports sat down with Compton to chat about his golf game and his experiences on and off the course.
CBS Local Sports: How would you define your course playing style?
Compton: Aggressively conservative. The US Open kind of suited my style because you had to play conservative with aggressive shots to the greens. I’d like to play my game a little more aggressive when I’m playing well, and when I’m not playing well, play a little bit more conservative.
CBS Local Sports: What are the must-haves that you carry in your golf bag?
Compton: A must-have in my golf bag would be tees, balls, sunscreen, pencils, umbrella, and my Georgia and University of Miami head covers.
CBS Local Sports: Why do you think those things are so important to you?
Compton: They’re important to me because it’s basically tells a lot about who I am. I’m from Miami, went to school at the University of Georgia. I’m very proud of being from Miami and playing at the University of Georgia. Essentials in a golf bag, that’s more of what a a caddy protects. He’s got to be ready for his player. We’re a team so we have to go at this together.
CBS Local Sports: What is your favorite club to hit and why?
Compton: My favorite club to hit would be probably the putter because it’s the last thing you do before you make a statement on the hole. It’s what you have to focus and read and concentrate. A good putter can make up for a lot of bad things that go on at the hole.
CBS Local Sports: If you didn’t play golf, what other sport would you play?
Compton: If I didn’t play golf, I would like to play baseball. I probably wouldn’t be good enough because I don’t have the size to play. That was my boyhood dream… to play baseball. That was something I played a lot before I got sick.
CBS Local Sports: Was that something that your father did?
Compton: We all played baseball as kids through all the leagues from game to game. That was the sport.
CBS Local Sports: What’s your favorite course to play?
Compton: My favorite course is Royal County Down. I only played it a few times for the British amateur. I played Augusta National, and I’m going to play Augusta at The Masters that is coming up next year. That’s one of the greatest courses in our game. And I’m looking forward to being able to play it.
CBS Local Sports: What’s your favorite golf hole of any course?
Compton: My favorite golf hole would be probably the 18th hole at the US Open.
CBS Local Sports: Why would that be?
Compton: That was the last, most successful round I had. The environment was really exciting. We’re so lucky to play courses all around the world. I think that’s kind of a question because all professional golfers will have a different opinion depending on what great memory they each had.
CBS Local Sports: Have you ever had an ace?
Compton: I have never had an ace in competition.
CBS Local Sports: Do you have any pregame rituals and why do those exist, if you have them?
Compton: My pregame rituals can vary depending on how I’m feeling that week. Sometimes, I like to just chill and go to the driving range 20 minutes before. There’s other times I like to go out there and practice for an hour/hour and a half before. I go by how I feel. I’m somewhat inconsistent which people may say its not the greatest thing.
You’re not talking to an average player on the tour. You’re talking to someone that has been through a lot and needs to listen to their bodies.
CBS Local Sports: When and how did you first start playing golf?
Compton: First started playing golf when I was seven, eight years old. I’d go out with my dad playing baseball, soccer, football. As I got sick, I excelled through golf because it wasn’t a physical-contact sport and something I could do on my own.
When Hurricane Andrew blew away our house in 1992, that was the same year I had my first transplant. We relocated to a golf course and it was my first chance to get out and play golf and get away from some other adversities I was dealing with in my life.
CBS Local Sports: What was it like to finish second this year at the U.S. Open?
Compton: It’s a dream come true. A lot of hard work, satisfaction, and a feeling of greatness. Something we all strive for. It’s a feeling I have wanted for a long time but haven’t reached. This has been a really exciting year and it’s given me something to shoot for in the future. To be able to hit shots and have that feeling making the putt under pressure, and I loved every bit of it.
CBS Local Sports: Would you say finishing second has given you the hope of knowing you can compete at that level?
Compton: I’ve always had the hope and feeling I’d play at a high level. It gives me a level of satisfaction that I have it under my belt. I want to have that feeling again. You’ve got to be very careful. Don’t set such high expectations that you don’t reach them.
Now, I’ve got to go back to what I was doing before finishing second and that’s work hard and believe.
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