SAN MARTIN, CALIF. (AP) - Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton won the inaugural PGA Tour Courage Award on Wednesday.
The PGA Tour Courage Award is for players who have overcome extraordinary adversity to make meaningful contributions to golf.
“It’s a very special moment for me,” Compton said. “When you guys did call and let me know that I was awarded the Courage Award, I actually walked around the block and had a moment to myself. I was very emotional.”
It’s hard to find a better candidate than Compton. He was diagnosed at age 9 with viral cardiomyopathy and had his first heart transplant three years later in 1992. He had a heart attack in 2008 and required a second transplant. Compton still managed to make it to the PGA Tour, and this year made it through two FedEx Cup playoff events.
“Through the help of family, doctors and friends, I have gone from being someone lying on his back in recovery to someone walking the fairways of the PGA Tour,” Compton said. “Not only has playing on tour been a dream of mine, but it has also served greatly in the healing process. It has given me something to work toward, but also something to hope for. I’m incredibly grateful for this award and blessed to have the opportunity to be playing on the PGA Tour.”
The award includes a $25,000 donation to the charity of the winner’s choice. Compton said the money would be split between the Cardiovascular Institute of Miami and the Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation.
“Erik’s story is a remarkable one in the fact he has overcome extraordinary odds to not only survive, but thrive,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said.
“With his perseverance and courage, along with the charitable work he has done to encourage organ donation, he’s a very fitting recipient of the inaugural PGA Tour Courage Award.”