Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Erik Compton Champions the Cause of Organ Donation As He Competes This Week to Win PGA Tour Card

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Just four months after his second heart transplant, Professional Golfer Erik Compton is back on the course this week, competing to achieve his lifetime goal—a card to play on the PGA Tour.

Perhaps cheering loudest for Compton will be the 90,000-plus Americans waiting on organ donor waiting lists. An average of 17 people die each day (over 6,000 each year) waiting for a transplant.

Though golf will be his focus this week as he competes in the first of three qualifying tournaments starting on Tuesday (October 21st) to earn the right to play with the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Compton will also be promoting a cause, literally near and dear to his new heart.

“Organ donation is literally the gift of life,” said the 28-year-old former University of Georgia All-American, who suffered a massive heart attack in October 2007. “I owe my life to two families and two donors, who made the decision to make available life-saving organs for transplants. I’m honored to be able to give back by supporting the Transplant Foundation in Miami and their effort to build awareness through the sale of a specialty Florida license tag—“Donate Organs. Pass it On.”

Both causes are generously displayed on Compton’s golf bag, shirt and hat. Compton also carries a special gift from a young athlete killed in a motorcycle accident—a strong and healthy new heart.

“I’m here today because of him,” said Compton, who hopes someday to meet the young donor’s parents.

Compton, who received his first heart transplant at the age of 12 as a result of heart disease, will be competing with 1,100 golfers competing across the country at 11 courses in the stage one qualifying round to ultimately earn a PGA Tour card. The PGA has granted Compton the right to use a cart during qualifying stages.

Slowly regaining his strength from a life-saving heart transplant, Compton’s golf swing is in top form, however, stamina is an issue, where walking four to five miles a day during a typical tournament has proved to be too taxing.

Recently in a warm-up tournament on the same Crandon Park Golf Course where he will compete in stage one Q School this week, Compton scored a sizzling 65, winning the Key Biscayne Open by six strokes. In fact, in three tournaments in which Compton has competed since his near fatal heart attack, he has played well, shooting 66, 67 and 65 respectively.

“It’s like throwing darts,” said Compton. “Golf is a game of skill. Once you’ve learned the skill, it never goes away. I’m swinging the clubs well enough to be competitive, I just need to get strong and healthy so I can get back to walking the course like everyone else.”

The PGA has given Compton a six-month rule waiver so he can play from a cart. He will have to reapply to continue at that time.

In passing the first qualifying stage, Compton’s next test will be a stage two qualifying tournament in Georgia, with the final qualifying tournament in Palm Springs, where 25 golfers will receive PGA Tour cards.

About Erik Compton

Erik holds the distinction as being the only professional golfer in the world to compete with a transplanted heart. Erik, who became the #1 junior golfer in the country and AJGA Rolex Junior Player of the Year in 1998, accepted a scholarship offer at the University of Georgia. At UGA, Erik went on to become an All-American. Erik’s success on the course led to him being named to the prestigious Walker Cup and Palmer Cup teams in 2001. Since turning professional in 2001, Erik has found success at every level of competition. He has won international events such as the King Hassan Trophy II of Morocco in 2005. He finished at the top of the Order of Merit List (money title) for the Canadian Tour in 2004 (after winning numerous events that season), and has won numerous times on the NGA Hooters Tour (most recently in 2006). Since turning professional in 2001, Erik has competed primarily on the PGA Nationwide Tour circuit. He has had several top-10 finishes throughout his career. His best finish on the Nationwide Tour was tied for 1st at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open in 2004. Erik has competed successfully on the PGA Tour as well where he has made 5 cuts in 11 career starts. This summer, Compton married Barbara Casco, and the couple is expecting a child, ironically scheduled on the anniversary of Erik’s first transplant on February 26th.

About The Transplant Foundation

Transplant Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) dedicated to funding patient services, public education to increase organ donation and lifesaving transplant research. The goal is to provide the Gift of Life to all in need. For more information, please contact Transplant Foundation at 1-866-901-3172 or visit www.transplantfoundation.org. The revenues from the sale of the specialty Donate Organs. Pass it On license plates will be used in the areas of research, patient services and education. Tampa, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando and Miami offer medical facilities specializing in transplants.

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