Continued from page 1

DeLucca had his eyes glued to the Internet on Sunday as he tried to watch the scores being posted from the Mexican Open. There were a few glitches, and some uncertainty, until it was final. Compton was a winner, and on his way to the PGA Tour.

“The second greatest thing is that he won,” DeLucca said. “The first great thing is he’s alive. And now, we’re really going to see what he’s going to do. He’s going to play on the biggest stage. He can play. It’s not luck. He’s been a winner all his life.”

What happens this week is irrelevant.

Some players win for the first time on the PGA Tour and take the next week off to recover. Compton won in Mexico and flew to Philadelphia, but not before losing his wallet in the airport, leaving him no cash to get bottled water or a sandwich for the flight.

This will be his fifth straight week playing golf, and he has posted 12 of his last 16 rounds in the 60s. In four PGA Tour starts this year, he has made the cut every time.

The bigger picture is next year, when he gets a full year on the PGA Tour, allowing him to be slightly more selective and plan for more rest that he needs to accommodate a heart that has been in his body for only three years.

“I’m very comfortable with what I’ve been through and who I am as an individual, and I know that I’m going to get attention because of having the two heart transplants,” he said. “I’m not so much of a sideshow freak anymore. I’ve proved that I can play on tour, so that does give a lot more confidence.”

Even so, Compton still has a hard time believing everything that transpired.

After the first transplant, he became the top-ranked junior in America and went to Georgia, eventually playing in the Walker Cup against a team that featured Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell. As a pro, he won tournaments in Canada and on the Hooters Tour, but he never made it to the big leagues. He had a heart attack in October 2007 and somehow drove himself to the hospital, narrowly avoiding death.

Doctors found a donor nearly 20 months later, and he went through a 14-hour operation. Everyone figured that was the end of his competitive golf, except for Compton.

“I made a call four months after my transplant to just about everybody in the country in golf and said that I was going to make a comeback, and there were very few people that were willing to take a chance on me,” he said.

He had support of his parents and his wife, whom he met in the hospital. Barbara was pregnant with a girl, Petra, as Compton was getting his second heart transplant. And there was Michael Hanzman, recently appointed a judge in Florida, who backed him financially and asked for nothing in return.

“I get chills thinking about it,” he said.

Compton returns to Florida next week for an annual procedure to test the strength of his heart. He will take more breaks this year because he can, although it would help to stay as high on the Nationwide Tour money list to help his position in the big leagues next year.

But he still wants to play on the PGA Tour when he can get a sponsor’s exemption.

Story Continues →