The Open 2014: Bogeys blight Erik Compton but 'it's better than any day I've had in hospital'

'I'm just a regular guy who has been through some serious stuff with my heart transplants,' says the Norwegian-American

royal liverpool

It was only a fleeting moment early in the morning but when Erik Compton birdied the 11th hole he was two under par and tied for the lead at The Open Championship. Could it really be happening again?

Last month at the US Open, Compton finished as the joint runner-up. With Martin Kaymer sucking the drama out of the final round with an eight-stroke victory, at least there was the romantic story of the 34-year-old from Florida to tell.

And what a story it is. Only now, here at Hoylake, can he say he has played in as many majors as he has had hearts. At the age of nine he was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscle is inflamed and cannot pump as hard as it should.

Compton underwent a first heart transplant in 1992 and a second in 2008, six months after driving himself to hospital while suffering a heart attack. He is a remarkable man who thinks he is nothing special. "I'm just a regular guy that has been through some serious stuff," said the Norwegian-American.

He made it to the PGA Tour only two years ago and at Pinehurst was playing in only his second major. The start to his first appearance in The Open was less than encouraging as he bogeyed the first two holes, but five birdies in eight holes from the 4th was a reminder of his US Open form.

It did not last. In all there were six birdies but five bogeys for a 71 and he was frustrated at a finish that saw him bogey the 17th and only par the last.

"The most rubbish round ever," he said. "I played a lot of inadvisable shots, made the sort of decisions that drive a player insane. I mean, I was in the bunker off the first tee, what was I thinking?"

If you were hoping for some perspective from someone working on his third heart then you have to remember something else about Compton: "I'm just a golfer right now and I'm trying to play in a major championship."

It was the most glorious morning to be out on the links but a frustrating one for a player who realised that he would end the day well down the leaderboard. "I'm here to compete and I don't see anybody in the field that doesn't feel the same way. I didn't play today the way you're supposed to in a major championship."

Surprised as he was to be detained by the media after his round, Compton was also grateful for the opportunity to vent prior to meeting up with the Norwegian branch of his family who had made the trip to Liverpool.

And then he said: "Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the frustration. I know it sounds crazy. Think about it, I'm frustrated about the bogeys I had today but it's better than any day I've ever had in hospital."

Compton has dispensation to use a buggy in competition but never does. He takes medication every 12 hours and the only issue with flying to the UK was rescheduling his medicine with the time difference.

He was not sure how many spectators were aware of his back story or whether "the fans are a little bit more reserved over here". And he does not understand why people would watch him play anyway. "If I was a fan, I'd be out watching Tiger or Rickie [Fowler] or other players," he said.

As modest as he is, Compton does not shy away from telling his story. "It's like the US Open all over again," he said. "I have a story to tell but it's not like I'm trying to do two jobs. I'm trying to perform as a golfer, and then I have a story behind it. Hopefully, I can show people on this side of the world my story. Never give up."

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star