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Erik Comptons Caddy

charnockpro

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2005
763
0
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLA. — No Canadians are playing in the Honda Classic that starts here tomorrow at the PGA National Resort's Champions course. But there's a strong Canadian connection in the person of a Vancouver-born pro who has won 104 long-drive competitions and who is caddying for a pro from Miami Beach playing with his third heart after two transplants.

The Vancouver pro is Kelly Murray. The 52-year-old lives in Reston, Va., won twice on the Canadian Tour, shot 60 in the 1986 Manitoba Open when he took 30 shots and 30 putts, and starred on the Golf Channel's The Big Break. The Miami Beach pro is Erik Compton, who had his first heart transplant when he was 12, and another last May. Compton and Murray are close pals.

Compton is probably golf's most inspirational story these days, given his two heart transplants. But what about his Canadian connection? Six generations ago, there's speculation his ancestors were United Empire Loyalists who fled New Jersey after the American Revolution ended in 1783, choosing to remain faithful to the Crown. They came to Eastern Canada. Later descendants ended up in Sacramento, Calif., where Compton's father grew up.

Compton was nine years old when he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart is enlarged and cannot pump blood efficiently. He had his first heart transplant three years later. Compton became a talented golfer who was a two-time All-American at the University of Georgia. He turned pro in 2001, played the Nationwide Tour and also made it into the 2004 Canadian Open at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ont.

Murray and Compton met about six years ago at a Canadian Tour stop. Compton noticed Murray hitting balls on the range, and saw his bag with the Natural Golf logo. Natural Golf was then associated with Moe Norman, the ball-striking wizard who captured the world's attention with his unusual, spread-eagled stance and stiff but effective swing. Moe, as everybody knew him, had given Murray plenty of lessons.

"He comes over and asks me to tell him about the Moe Norman stuff," Murray said yesterday while messing around on the practice putting green here. "Erik tells me he has a habit of hooking the ball, and asks if I can help him. So I tell him to put all his weight on his right side and lift his left foot up so that he's just on his big toe for balance and friction. From that point on, he hit it great. I cleaned him up."

Compton and Murray became friends. Murray caddied for Compton in that 2004 Canadian Open. Compton was walking, and had to play 35 holes in one day because rain had stopped play time and again. Compton had a good chance to make the cut when he stood on the 14th tee at Glen Abbey, but took an aggressive angle off the tee on the dogleg right par-four hole, hit his drive into the hazard, and made a triple bogey. He missed the cut.

"His legs were like rubber by then," Murray said of Compton. Three years later, in October of 2007, Compton suffered a massive heart attack that he barely survived. He had a second heart transplant last May in Miami. Then, last November, Compton made the cut at the Children's Miracle Network Classic in Orlando. It goes without saying that nobody who had lived with three hearts had made the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Soon after, Compton came within a shot of getting into the final stage of the PGA Tour's qualifying tournament. Then, on Feb. 22, his wife Barbara gave birth to their first child, a daughter. She'll be 13 days old when Compton sets off in the first round tomorrow. He's in the tournament on a sponsor's exemption, and has another exemption into the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando this month.

The PGA Tour created a rule that is allowing Compton to ride a cart if he chooses. This exception to the tour's policy that players must walk will expire next month. That's his goal. He wasn't at the course yesterday and isn't expected today, so that he could rest for the tournament.

"It's been a goal of mine to get back and play and walk," Compton said Monday. "It's going to be a good week."

Murray was squinting into the yardage book players use, and hoping he could read its tiny print, when he referred to Compton as a pioneer. That's accurate. Compton is full of heart. Who wouldn't root for him to go a long way in this tournament, and all on his feet if possible?
 

floggerrushmd

Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Jul 11, 2008
589
2
Wow that is an inspirational story, I will be looking for him in the coverage in upcoming PGA events.
 

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