PINEHURST, N.C. -- Erik Compton wanted to prove he was "not just a guy with two heart transplants."
After finishing in a tie for second place with Rickie Fowler at the 2014 US Open, Compton has booked a return trip to America's national championship, and also secured a spot in the 2015 Masters.
While Martin Kaymer was running way with the championship on Sunday, Compton was in a fierce battle for second place with Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson. Pinehurst No. 2 tripped up its leaders down the stretch, but Compton and Fowler remained resilient right down to the final holes to finish as two of just three players under par for the week.
Compton called his US Open performance a "career-opening thing," and if you look at what comes with his finish I think you'll agree:
- By finishing in the top 10, Compton has qualified for the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
- By finishing in the top 4, Compton has qualified for the 2015 Masters.
- By finishing in a tie for second place, Compton and Fowler will each receive $789,329.50 from the purse.
Wearing a red shirt and black pants, the former University of Georgia star said he got goosebumps walking from tee to green as the fans in Pinehurst rallied behind Compton throughout the final round.
"The crowd was so great," Compton said. "On every hole, from the tee box to the putting green, people were cheering for me and I definitely felt the love and the support from the crowd. Seemed like people really got around my story. And for me to be here and to do this at such a high level is just as good of a feeling as winning a golf tournament. So it's just a great feeling and I can't wait to get back into another major."
His drive on the 18th hole landed in the natural area, and then his next shot scooted up the fairway before settling in a front-right bunker. Needing an up-and-down to finish under par, Compton bounced back -- like he has done in so many other ways thoughout his life -- and drew a roar from the crowd as he chipped out and drained an 8-foot putt to finish his memorable championship performance.
"The up-and-down I made on 18 is an example of never giving up," Compton said. "I hit the world's worst shot into the green and then got up-and-down.
"So when you have disabilities or you have health issues, some days are really bad and then you got to try to make the best of it the next day and wake up and move your body. And I'm a perfect example of that. I've been on my back twice and I never thought I would ever leave the house. 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."