- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA. (AP) - Erik Compton is among the elite on the PGA Tour this week at the AT&T National, even though he has been in a league of his own for about as long as he’s been playing golf.

Compton is in the same group with Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan for the first two days at Aronimink. One of them is a former U.S. Open champion who rose as high as No. 2 in the world. Another played in the Ryder Cup and won a World Golf Championship last year.

And the third?

“Everybody knows I’m the guy with two hearts,” Compton said.


It’s a story that has been told for the last three years, ever since the 31-year-old Compton again defied logic, if not death, by getting a second heart transplant and returning five months later to get through the first stage of Q-school.

And it keeps getting more amazing.

Compton shot a 65 on Sunday in the final round of the Mexican Open and won the Nationwide Tour event, moving him up to No. 2 on the money list and all but assuring he will finish among the top 25 this year and earn his card on the PGA Tour.

His identity won’t change. He will always be the guy who after his second transplant said, “I’ve been dead. Twice.”

Compton wouldn’t have it any other way. The attention he receives whenever he plays allows him to spread the word on organ transplants, such as the heart he received when he was 12, and the second heart he was given on May 20, 2008.

“The doctors are shocked and people in the transplant world are shocked,” Compton said. “I’m shocked because I always said I would be on tour and play, but now it’s a reality. My dream is finally coming true, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. I have a new life and I have a bright future, and it’s just … I mean, it’s just crazy. I can’t even explain it.”

It’s even harder to fathom for those who have seen this story unfold.

Charlie DeLucca, head of the Dade Amateur Golf Association in Miami, still remembers when Compton showed up to play and his parents asked if he could take a pull cart. DeLucca was skeptical, unaware that the boy had been diagnosed at age 9 with cardiomyopathy, an enlarging of the heart that hinders its ability to pump blood.

The first transplant occurred a few years later, and DeLucca figured he’d never see him again.

Compton, as he has done his entire life, proved otherwise.

“He’s not even supposed to be here,” DeLucca said. “He just never lost his determination.”

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