Shared inspiration

Jun. 16, 2014 @ 02:38 AM

Erik Compton received four standing ovations along the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open Championship Sunday evening. Only new champion Martin Kaymer had earned more applause for the golf he'd played throughout the four days at Pinehurst No. 2.

Compton, who finished runner-up by eight shots to Kaymer alongside Rickie Fowler, was the primary honoree on the No. 18 tee, as he walked the last 75 yards to the green, once he made a par putt to finish his round and finally while departing the green - finishing his second U.S. Open and major tournament, the first in which he played all four rounds.

More than an exciting Cinderella story, which was great unto itself around Pinehurst. Compton's ovations were for defeating more than Pinehurst or for defeating all but two golfers in the tournament.

At age 12, Compton received a heart transplant three years after being diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy.

After an excellent golf career at the University of Georgia, then trying to make it as a tour pro, Compton suffered a severe heart attack at age 28, in October 2007. While driving himself to the hospital, he was calling his loved ones to tell them he loved him. He had a second heart transplant in 2008.

"You can't ever give up," he said Sunday. "I mean, we all have adversity in our lives, some are different than others."

By 2010, Compton was in his first U.S. Open. He had a successful Web.com Tour season in 2011, including a victory and earning his PGA Tour card in 2012. He had to go through PGA Tour qualifying school, and made it through, for the 2013 PGA Tour year. He received the PGA Tour Courage Award in 2013.

Compton, who's hometown is Miami, made the 2014 U.S. Open through sectional qualifying. On June 2 in Columbus, Ohio, he played 36 holes, then two tiebreaker playoff holes, to make it to Pinehurst.

The Pinehurst galleries appreciated Compton and he knew it as it was happening.

"I think it's very exciting to play golf around people that are supporting you. I've never had that feeling where people have - so many people were cheering my name and it was just a really great week," said Compton.

Compton, being a golfer and a competitor, still broke down his game, also admitting perhaps no one could've done much about Kaymer running away from the field.

"Today I hit the ball extremely well. I didn't have my best stuff on the greens," he said.

"I had my opportunities to put a little heat on (Kaymer) and I got it to four under, then I made a bogey (with a three-putt on No. 7)."

His story, and ability to play the best golf he ever has, inspires.

"I've been on my back twice and I never thought I would ever leave the house, " he said. "Now I just finished second at the U.S. Open which is, I don't think anybody would have ever thought I would do that, not even myself. So you can't ever write yourself off, you just can't give up."

Finishing second in a U.S. Open means an exemption to the ensuing Masters.

"It's a dream come true," he said about the Masters.

So no matter how Compton does on tour between now and next April, he'll have the shot to inspire again and let Augusta's patrons return a small portion as he plays.