Erik Compton receives inaugural Courage Award
Erik Compton, a two-time heart transplant recipient, became the inaugural winner of the PGA Tour Courage Award on Wednesday.
Compton, who finished No. 117 in the FedEx Cup standings last season, was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy at 9 years old. He has since had two heart transplants – one at the age of 12 and the other following a heart attack in 2008.
"When you guys did call and let me know that I was awarded the Courage Award, I actually walked around the block and had a moment to myself," Compton said during a press conference at the Frys.com Open at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif. "I was very emotional about it, because I feel like this is what I worked basically my whole life (for), to basically (not only) receive status back on the PGA Tour, but to be acknowledged by the players and also by the board and to receive such a great award."
A former All-American at Georgia, Compton turned pro in 2001. He played mostly on what is now called the Web.com Tour until his heart attack in 2008. Six month after his second transplant, he made the cut at the Children's Miracle Network Classic.
He won his first Web.com Tour event at the 2011 Mexico Open before earning his PGA Tour card in 2012. He was unable to secure his card for the 2013 season after notching just one top-25 finish in 2012, but a T-7 finish at Q-School allowed him to keep his PGA Tour status.
“Erik’s story is a remarkable one in the fact he has overcome extraordinary odds to not only survive, but thrive,” PGA Tour Commisioner Tim Finchem said.
The Courage Award is given “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 award won't be an annual award and will be given out "from time to time," Finchem said. It also replaces the Comeback Award, which was last awarded in 2010.
"I know we talked earlier about the Comeback Award, and I feel like it's all combined into one," said Compton, who split his $25,000 donation between the Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation and the Cardiovascular Institute of Miami.
"It's been a huge comeback for me, not only for me to be able to share the award with myself, but for those that were around me when I was in the hospital, my coaches, my family close friends, and even close friends on the PGA Tour."
Compton was awarded the Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award last year before the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Disney, becoming the first golfer to win the award since Arnold Palmer in 1998.