Compton awarded inaugural PGA TOUR Courage Award

October 09, 2013

SAN MARTIN, Calif.  –  Commissioner Tim Finchem announced that the PGA TOUR has awarded the inaugural PGA TOUR Courage Award to two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton, who recently completed his second season on TOUR.

The PGA TOUR Courage Award is presented to a player who, through courage and perseverance, has overcome extraordinary adversity, such as personal tragedy or debilitating injury or illness, to make a significant and meaningful contribution to the game of golf. The Courage Award includes a $25,000 charitable contribution to be distributed to a charity of the award recipient’s choice; this year’s contribution will be shared by the South Miami Heart Center at South Miami Hospital and the Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation at Compton’s request.

“Erik’s story is a remarkable one in the fact he has overcome extraordinary odds to not only survive, but thrive,” said Finchem, speaking from the Open. “In recent years, he has started a family with wife Barbara and daughter Petra, won a Tour event and played two years on the PGA TOUR. With Erik’s show of perseverance and courage, along with his charitable work to encourage organ donation, he is a very fitting recipient of the inaugural PGA TOUR Courage Award.”

The donation to the Cardiovascular Institute of Miami will support the Advanced Heart Failure and Pulmonary Hypertension Program at the South Miami Heart Center at South Miami Hospital in honor of Dr. Javier Jimenez. The Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation gift honors the host and namesake of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, who awarded Compton with a Sponsor Exemption to his event early in Compton’s career.

“Through the help of family, doctors and friends, I have gone from being someone lying on his back in recovery to someone walking the fairways of the PGA TOUR,” said Compton. “Not only has playing on TOUR been a dream of mine, but it has also served greatly in the healing process. It has given me something to work toward, but also something to hope for. I’m incredibly grateful for this award and blessed to have the opportunity to be playing on the PGA TOUR.”

When Compton was 9 years old, he was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy, a condition that has forced him to undergo two heart transplants, the first being in 1992 at the age of 12. The Miami native began playing golf as part of his rehabilitation, and Compton went on to become the 1998 American Junior Golf Association Co-Player of the Year, a 2001 second-team All-America selection at the University of Georgia and a member of the 2001 United States Walker Cup Team.

After playing the Tour full-time in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007, Compton underwent a second transplant in 2008 after he suffered a heart attack and, with no one around, was forced to drive himself to the hospital. Six months later, he played and made the cut at the PGA TOUR’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic as a Sponsor Exemption. Compton won the 2011 Mexico Open on the Tour and later earned his PGA TOUR card for 2012 after finishing 13th on the season-ending money list. In 2013, he earned his first career top-10 finish, a tie for fourth at The Honda Classic, and remained exempt for the 2013-14 PGA TOUR Season as he finished inside the top 100 in the FedExCup standings. 

Compton is involved with the Transplant Foundation and Donate Life America. With nearly 120,000 individuals awaiting an organ transplant, Compton’s efforts with Donate Life America aim to help raise awareness of organ donation and transplantation.

He is scheduled to play this week at the Open, the first event of the 2013-14 PGA TOUR Season.