Sports can thrill and inspire, but of late, sports can be equally frustrating and disgusting. Anymore, it seems you can follow sports stories in the gossip columns and police blotters as much as you can on the sports page.
Nominally, this column is about golf, but it is really about heart.
The US Open begins Thursday at the famed Pebble Beach course in Monterey, California. Being one of four major golf championships, the US Open will feature the best names in golf, Tiger, Phil, Padraig, Miguel and Vijay. Tom Watson will be there. So will Erik Compton.
A dozen golfers will tee off with a realistic expectation of contenting for the championship. Erik Compton is not one of those golfers. Actually, he will be extremely fortunate just to make the cut. He barely even made the field at Pebble Beach, having had to survive a 39 hole qualifier just to make it to his first major championship, but Erik Compton plays with a lot of heart.
In fact, he’s on his third one.
Erik Compton is a thirty year old journeyman golfer from Florida, married, with a 14 month old daughter. He received his first heart transplant when he was twelve, his own heart having failed due to cardiomyopathy. That heart began to fail in 2007 and Erik suffered a heart attack. In 2008, he received yet another heart transplant.
Erik Compton’s playing partners this weekend will include Jannine, the fifteen year old victim of a drunk driver, and Issac, a former student/athlete that fell victim to a hit and run driver.
There will be no storybook ending this weekend. Erik Compton will likely be just one more golfer that tries to follow his dream of winning a US Open championship. Come Sunday afternoon, it will Phil or Tiger or Miguel in the final pairing, pursuing the title and fame and fortune. Erik will probably be watching it on television in his motel room.
Erik Compton’s wife and daughter, along with his parents will join many fans in the gallery, watching him play Pebble Beach.
Also in the gallery, will be the parents of a young man named Issac.
(The thread photo is the Eighteenth hole at Pebble Beach.)
William Stephenson Clark