The Travelers is a popular venue for players getting their first win. Who will it be this week?
Erik Compton is coming off his best finish and will be in the field this week
CROMWELL, Conn. -- Forgive Erik Compton if he looks a little tired this week at the Travelers Championship, or if he doesn’t play as well as he did at the U.S. Open.
He didn’t get to bed until 4:30 a.m. after his runner-up finish at Pinehurst, trying to let the accomplishment sink in. Days later it still hasn’t.
He’s also still responding to some of the more-than 300 text messages he got after authoring the feel-good story of the year.
“The best is when you get a number and it doesn't say who it is and it's a long message,” the double heart transplant recipient said. “You never want to say who is this, but I've had a lot of great friends reach out to me.”
Keegan Bradley left Compton a note in his locker before the final round at Pinehurst, a pretty cool gesture considering Bradley was in contention himself and trying to beat Compton.
Miami Heat guard Ray Allen also called and he and Compton talked about visualizing shots. Not a bad source to have at your disposal, the NBA’s all-time three-point king and arguably the greatest shooter ever, the week before the toughest tournament of the year.
The list included Alonzo Mourning, the retired NBA center who spent most of his 15 years in the NBA in Miami and had undergone a transplant of his own, getting a new kidney before returning to the Heat and winning a championship in 2006.
“It's really cool to have a lot of guys who have been very encouraging on my story and really rooting for me,” said Compton. "I love other sports. I've always considered myself a sports guy. It's really neat.”
So of course is his story, which tugs at the heartstrings no matter how often it’s repeated.
At age 9, he was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy -- a condition where the heart muscle is inflamed and unable to pump as hard as it should. Three years later, he received his first transplant.
One day 16 years later Compton felt what he thought might have been a cramp. But it was the beginning of a massive heart attack.
He drove himself to the hospital, calling family and friends along the way to say goodbye in case he didn’t make it. Luckily he did and soon after underwent a second transplant.
By the time he got to Pinehurst at age 34, Compton, winless on the PGA TOUR, felt like his whole life had prepared him for this moment, even though it was just his second career U.S. Open (he missed the cut in his first at Pebble Beach in 2010).