MORE INTERVIEWS: Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic transcripts
MARK STEVENS: Before we get started with the normal press conference. Duwayne Escobedo has flown in today to present Erik with a special award. I'll let Duwayne take it from here and explain it. We'll have some comments from Erik.
DUWAYNE ESCOBEDO: Erik, very honored to be here and give you this award. I'm with the United States Sports Academy in Daphne, Alabama. We're the largest graduate school in sport education in America with a bachelor's and at the doctoral level. Every year we do our Award for Sport. This is our 28th annual Award for Sport, and we're pleased to give you our Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award. As you may know, Babe was a professional golfer on the women's tour and she suffered cancer. A month after finishing her treatment, she won her tenth and final major. But we're honored to present this award to you, being a two� time heart recipient. You have the kind of story that inspires all of us. You over came all of the obstacles. People probably thought there was no way you could make the highest level of professional golf. You did and you're here. So congratulations. And if you give me a minute, I'll give you this medal. (Applause).
ERIK COMPTON: Obviously this is a great award, something I'm very proud of to be honored with this award with all the names, all the champions that have been awarded in the past. I think what Babe did, she did something that I've never dreamed of doing is winning a major. I guess I have dreamed, but it just hasn't come true yet.
Four years ago when I came back here to the Children's Miracle Network I did probably one of my greatest achievements was making the cut here and the card. I didn't have the strength to walk, but was here with my family. It was a very emotional moment for me on the 18th green to survive the cut. And now to be back here as a PGA tour member and having been able to walk, it's a great achievement and an achievement that I felt that I didn't do on my own. I had many people that helped me, doctors and family and friends, but not only that, obviously two transplants. It takes two hearts to keep me going, and the decision for them to become organ donors and for me to be alive has been I would say an experience of a lifetime, not something that I recommend everybody go through. But it's been an honor to be on the receiving end of that because it's opened my eyes and I've been able to see things that a lot of people haven't. I feel an extraordinary life. So it's just great to be here, be here with my wife and my daughter and celebrate this award and hopefully celebrate a victory this week. (Applause).
MARK STEVENS: Okay. Thank you very much. Speaking on behalf of media, we've all had the pleasure of meeting your daughter the last two days. She has your wonderful outgoing personality. At this time if any media have questions from either Erik or Duwayne, award related or tournament related, we'll open up the floor now.
ERIK COMPTON: I'll have my daughter carry it with her. Get her a good work. This is the last tournament of the year, a big week, and it's been a very successful year this year on and off the golf course, and to be able to receive this award at the end of the year really reminds me of the hard work that I've done over the course of the year and the course of a lifetime so it's just nice to be able to share it with all you guys and people who have seen me through all the ups and downs.
ERIK COMPTON: You know, the TOUR is such a fine line. You really don't realize how great you have it until you don't have a TOUR card and you're at home and watching on television and I've been kind of on the receiving end of that for some years. But I was saying earlier in an interview that I feel strangely calm this week, just maybe because I feel confident to know that this is a business that I've been running for many, many years, and I'm confident to know whether � � wherever I play, you know, that I'll have opportunities to win and get back to the TOUR.
You can't really look at a career on one tournament or one year. You have to look at it as a long time, and I feel like I've had a good career.
Now, when you talk to media and you look at the standings of a Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods. Obviously those are different careers. My career path has taken off in the last four years. The next four years we'll see how far it goes. You never know what the future holds.
Q. You have played at TOUR events prior to this year, as a pro member for the first time what are the things you did well this year and what are the things where you didn't quite perform up to your potential??
ERIK COMPTON: You know, I look sometimes at the stats. I don't really get too involved with it. Sometimes I try and figure out how I can have a 71 scoring average and be in a position that I'm in. Feels like I've had a very good scoring average over my lifetime.
But the PGA TOUR is full of great golfers, and moments ago you had Tommy "Two Gloves" in here, and we were chatting two weeks ago on Saturday, hey, why is our year kind of not so great, then he shoots 60 and all of a sudden turns a year like I've had into an extraordinary year with a win. So the PGA TOUR rewards exceptional play.
I made, I think, 16, 17, 18 cuts this year and I'm 163rd on the Money List. So I haven't had a great week. I haven't had a week where I feel like on the weekend the heart's racing and I'm in contention. So hey, you win one tournament and miss 20 cuts in a row, is that a great year? I don't know. It's very difficult. We're measured based upon the money list, not so much on the consistency.
Q. People say the golf is the way you play. But is it the difficulty of the golf course that you have to attest to or is it more that whatever it takes to be in the Top 10 makes that huge money. Which is it tougher to adjust to when you're coming off the Web.com Tour??
ERIK COMPTON: Well, golf is a hard thing. When you come out of the Web.com Tour and you're having to play three holes in the dark on Saturday morning to make the cut at Riviera and the ball is flying 200 yards with a 3� wood, it can be hard. Or the categories that we have to play in. That's why I think it's amazing when you see guys like Eddie Potter or guys that play out of our category are extremely well. Just getting off the Web.com when I graduated into the PGA TOUR.
It's hard to play as a rookie and the guys are the best players in the world out here and you have to play extraordinarily well and I find that I make a cut on the number, I made the cut by one and you're 12 back going into the weekend. So you have a lot of work to be done. And there's great players, and I have to play better. That's just all I have to do. Learning a new golf course, there's a lot of new courses that I didn't get a chance to play over the years, and the one that I've played before, I feel like I played pretty well. So there's definitely a learning curve out here, just like when you're in college and coming out and playing the Web.com Tour.
Q. Erik, how different is maybe your perspective or your outlook on things? Last year you played well on the Web.com Tour and sort of know your future and that you were going to be out here relatively early. This year is different for you. Maybe compare and contrast the differences between last season and this season.
ERIK COMPTON: Yeah. I think last season I was extremely confident and I came out on the Web.com and leading the first event of the year with three holes to play and ended up finishing fourth. And I just felt like I'd already � � in my mind I felt like I'd accomplished that I was going to get my card. And I think out here it's very easy to get � � you know, if you don't get off to a good start, you sort to fall in the limbo of just barely making the cut.
So I don't feel like I've played that much different than I did last year, although it seemed like last year when I needed to make a birdie, I made them and excelled to the next hole. But like I said, the year is not over. Sitting here and sitting in front of you guys with one tournament left would probably be less stressful than sitting in a hospital room and telling me they have to get ready for me to have surgery. So it's never over until it's over. And I preach that off the golf course, so I should definitely preach that on the golf course. If I do well this week, it'll be an extraordinary year.
Q. And how about donate life? If you could maybe talk about your involvement there or participation with them.
ERIK COMPTON: Well, our website, Donate Life and our campaign of Playing With Erik Compton this year has been a great success. Starting at the beginning of the year, being able to do the hospitals, being able to educate the local communities, even being able to speak to some of the doctors and the patients, it's just been a great year. I think even the tournaments that I have played that I didn't do the hospitals, I seemed to play better. Just goes to show you what a mental game this is. Sometimes you get away from the game and you play better.
But I feel that my calling off the golf course will continue to grow even after my playing days are done. So you know, it started with the two lives that I have. On and off the golf course it's very comforting and I feel very confident of what I've done and what I'm able to do as a person.
Q. So do you have speaking engagements lined up this week at hospitals??
ERIK COMPTON: Well, this week I'm obviously on the receiving end of a great award, and being able not only to be the honor of the award, but also to share my story, and I feel like this is a great venue for me to be able to play well. So it's been � � you've actually helped me out quite a bit.
Q. It almost sounds like maybe the one thing that's been missing from your year has been that Tommy Gainey 8� under, 9� under, 10� under round??
ERIK COMPTON: I guess all it takes is one or two good rounds in a four� day period. And you know, I know it's there. And like I said, whether it happens this year or next year, I'm very patient and open to whenever it happens. And there's no reason to hit the panic button. I mean we all have careers and they all change, and just like we see today things change. So you just have to just embrace and hope that your time comes.
Q. Two� part question. Your life story has been well documented. You have been the HBO special on you. But just take us through how hard it was on your childhood when you had to give up baseball and you took up the game of golf. What was the golf that you liked so much back when you were going to not be able to play baseball. And also, the second part of the question. I know you're the kind of guy who doesn't make too much deal about it, but in the course of your whole season, your medication you have to take, how hard was it to keep your health issues throughout the year? Was there any times that it really affected your results? Does that make sense?
ERIK COMPTON: Well, the first part of the question, obviously growing up I was a very, very athletic kid. The ADD type, would run around. You couldn't even bring them in for lunch or dinner. So it was very difficult for me when I was sick to be side lined, and I actually remember a very growing up point was having to put a helmet on and be a first base coach at nine years old when I knew that other nine year� olds couldn't hit the ball like I could. And having to watch them play was sort of a very humbling experience at nine years old.
So when I got the chance to play golf and being able to � � after the first transplant, being able to compete with other kids and parents and adults and go from a fat, chubby kid, with all the medication that I was on and it was so wonderful that I was out there playing, to the guy that was actually beating kids that were just normal. It wasn't such a good thing after that.
Golf has brought me great recovery and great emotion to my life and I'm very thankful that I've had the opportunity to play such a wonderful sport.
As far as the year goes, with the medications that I take, you know, I honestly feel like I'm physically just as strong as anybody that's my age. I feel like I've put in a lot of hard work over the course of four years and balance my life very, very well on and off the course. I hit the ball just as far � � actually farther than most guys on the PGA TOUR. So I don't feel that there was only maybe one or two tournaments that heat got to me this year. But I think it got to everybody.
I feel really, really well. I don't know what other guys feel like. I know what I feel like, and that's all that matters. Really focusing on how I feel when I play.
Q. Erik, could you share what the hospital visits are like, what impact they have on you and maybe what you're trying to accomplish when you go??
ERIK COMPTON: The hospital visits, you know, they don't just start when I'm on the road. They also start when I'm at home, in Miami. Whether I'm going into Jackson and having blood work or having an echo or biopsy, I'll go in and see other patients that have had transplants and talk to them and motivate. A lot of relationships I've carried on even to this day. And the feeling is when I go to a hospital to see the patients, sometimes it's a catch 22. I feel that it puts me back into that position where I was when I was on my back in some of the dark places. Sometimes it's tough for me, but I also realize that I might help someone out of that situation. And there's a lot of people that need to have that same chance that I had.
And then when I'm also there when we do the educational forums and to educate people about organ donation, there's still a lot of lack of knowledge of how to become an organ donor. And why people don't become organ donors. So it's a very gratifying and humbling experience and it makes me feel good when I leave to know that I've helped somebody and done something.
But when I go out and play golf and make a putt, it only helps me so I can go buy food and get to the next tournament. Realistically it doesn't really affect other people. When I go in and visit somebody who is really sick, it affects me. And I'm mature enough and old enough to know that that's the bigger picture.
MARK STEVENS: Well, thank you very much for your time, Duwayne and Erik. And congratulations.