DUBLIN, Ohio – This is Erik Compton's fourth trip to the Memorial Tournament, which hangs its hat on honoring the game's greats.
Yet if memories and remembrance are at the crux of what the tournament represents, Compton's are more incredible than anybody's.
The 32-year-old, a double heart transplant recipient, received his second donor heart from an Ohio resident who lived in Columbus. Compton shot a 5-under 67 on Thursday and is one stroke off the lead at Muirfield Village.
“It's just a great story, obviously, and it's a great place -- for me it's a special place,” Compton said. “For me 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.”
To be honest, for Compton to be playing anywhere is terrific, period. Four years ago he was on his deathbed in a Miami hospital, awaiting a second donor heart after the one he received at age 12 had all but blown up.
Compton's current heart came from Isaac Klosterman, a 26-year-old Dayton native and Columbus resident who was killed in a cycle crash in Miami.
Compton, whose story has gone global since he's the only sports figure in the world who has undergone two heart transplants, is a rookie on the tour this year after playing his way to the big leagues via the Nationwide Tour. As you might imagine, given the medicine cocktail he consumes everyday, his life isn't exactly predictable.
After explaining that he's been making some swing changes and has committed to trusting them and going full-bore forward, he was asked how he was able to dive in headfirst on the tweaks without reservation.
”If you live my life, you've learned how to trust a lot of things,” he said. “I trust it every time I wake up that my heart is going to beat a certain way. I have to put a lot of trust in a lot of people, so why not trust myself?”
As an example of that life he mentioned, Compton noted that his wife often finds him sleeping in various spots around the house. Just the way it is. The scores he shot are not always the No. 1 priority.
“Whether I shoot 10-under or 11-under or 12-under or 2-under, for me sleeping on a lead, that doesn't really bother me at all,” he said. “I think just the normal tics that I have -- my wife yells at me sometimes, she'll find me sleeping on the floor or on the side of the couch just to get comfortable to go to sleep.
“But that's been like that for years.”
If he can stay in the hunt, he will be a popular figure on the weekend.
“Obviously I know there's a lot of people that are in the town that may be familiar with the story, so that's obviously always cool to play in front of people that are rooting for you,” he said.