Thursday, June 21, 2018

On third heart, Erik Compton ties for second at U.S. Open

PINEHURST, N.C. — Erik Compton held back tears when he thought about what it meant to tie for second at the U.S. Open on Sunday.

No longer is he a two-time heart transplant recipient who plays golf. Now, he's a golfer who just happens to be on his third heart.

Compton, 34, earned the best finish of his career at Pinehurst No. 2, tying Rickie Fowler. It earned him a spot at the Masters and U.S. Open next year. He closed with 2-over 72 for 1-under 279, leaving him eight shots behind Martin Kaymer but one of just three players to break par.

"We all have adversity in our lives," Compton said. "Some are different than others. Some are more major.

"When you have disabilities or health issues, some days are really bad. But you have to make the best of it the next day. I've been on my back twice, and I never thought I'd ever leave the house. And now I just finished second in the U.S. Open. I don't think anybody would think that, not even myself. You can't give up."

Compton got within four shots of the lead when he birdied No. 8 and Kaymer bogeyed No. 7. But he could not put any more pressure on Kaymer. "I think I've finally had that feeling of putting myself on the map," he said. "If I never play another round of golf, I think I've made my mark in this game."

Still searching: Fowler, 25, said his second top-five major finish of the year is proof he's inching closer to the win that would end questions about if he is more hype than substance. "It doesn't matter what I do. I'm always going to have critics," said Fowler, who tied for fifth at the Masters. "There's been great finishes. But I want to win, and I want to win more."

Seminole improves: Ex-Florida State star Daniel Berger closed his first U.S. Open with 4-under 66. It was the lowest round of the event outside of Kaymer's 65s on Thursday and Friday. And it came a day after he shot 78. Berger, who plays on the Tour, turned pro last year and was the medalist at this month's U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Vero Beach. "When you play on such a big stage, the doesn't feel as big," he said. "But I've got to kind of shift my focus back to And if all goes well, I'll be out here next year."

On to 2015: Phil Mickelson, 43, seeking his first U.S. Open title, shot 2-over 72 and finished 7 over: "I feel like in the next five years, I'll have two or three good chances to win."

Hole-in-one: Zach Johnson aced the 172-yard No. 9. His shot landed about 20 feet left of the flag, bounced twice, then curled down a ridge into the cup. It was the third year in a row a hole-in-one was made at the U.S. Open and the 44th overall.

Cart woes: The man who drove NBC analyst Roger Maltbie's cart Saturday faces charges after being accused of hitting a state trooper in the leg with the cart. Tommy Lineberry, 59, was charged with felony assault on a law enforcement officer, felony hit and run, driving while impaired and resisting, obstructing and delaying a law enforcement officer, the police report said. Witnesses said the trooper was holding traffic as players teed off at No. 11 when Lineberry told him, "I'm supposed to get the cart to Roger." The trooper, inches from Lineberry's face, witnesses said, responded: "When a state trooper tells you to stop, that's what you're supposed to do."

Signing off: This was NBC and ESPN's last year airing the tournament. Fox has it for the 12 years.

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