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Compton draws the Day 1 notice

Erik Compton, one back at the Memorial, enjoys playing in Ohio, where the donor of his second heart transplant is from.

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Erik Compton, one back at the Memorial, enjoys playing in Ohio, where the donor of his second heart transplant is from.

DUBLIN, Ohio — Erik Compton considers the Memorial Tournament a special week, no matter how he plays, knowing his second heart transplant came from a donor in Ohio.

The opening round was even sweeter with three birdies on the back nine Thursday at Muirfield Village for 5-under 67, leaving him one shot out of the lead after a day that featured a timely rally by Rory McIlroy and a surprising departure by Phil Mickelson.

Scott Stallings was atop the leaderboard and few noticed.

Compton has been an amazing story. He had his first heart transplant at 12, played in the Walker Cup after a solid career at Georgia, nearly died from a heart attack on his way home from the golf course in 2007, had a second transplant in May 2008, and earned his PGA Tour card for the first time last year through the Nationwide Tour.

"It's a great place — for me, it's a special place," Compton said. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about my donor. To be able to play here, regardless of whether I play good or bad, it's just always a nice week."

Coming off back-to-back missed cuts that cost him his No. 1 ranking, McIlroy took a quadruple bogey on his third hole, carding a 7, and was 4 over. But he rallied for 71. "I was just like, 'Here we go again,' " McIlroy said. "But I hung in there well."

Tiger Woods finished with double bogey and shot 70.

Mickelson shot 79, his worst score at the Memorial, and withdrew, citing mental fatigue.

He said playing three straight weeks, followed by a trip to Europe for his wife's 40th birthday, took too much out of him and he needed extra rest with the U.S. Open two weeks away.

Playing partner Bubba Watson said constant cellphone pictures taken by fans "took Phil out of his game," but Mickelson danced around that issue.

"I feel like it's the responsibility of a player to see through your commitment and finish," Mickelson said. "And I'm kind of overruling that just a touch, because I'm trying to think big picture on what's the best way for me to get ready for the Open."

Tiger's niece shines: Tiger Woods' niece qualified for next month's U.S. Women's Open. Cheyenne Woods, 21, turned pro in May after graduating from Wake Forest and makes her debut next week at the LPGA Championship. But at the Open qualifier in Sanford, N.C., Woods was co-medalist after posting rounds of 74-72.

Compton draws the Day 1 notice 06/01/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 1, 2012 1:30am]

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