Maryland Terps

Erik Compton is a walking, talking medical miracle

803220.png

Erik Compton is a walking, talking medical miracle

Len Shapiro
CSNWashington.com

Erik Compton looked tired late Tuesday afternoon. He had just played nine holes in a warm-up round for the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club, followed by a little practice and a half-dozen media interviews.

On Wednesday, there was more of the same, as well as a visit to the Washington Hospital Center in the morning to meet with transplant patients and staff members, the better to promote organ and tissue awareness.

Compton is a walking, talking prime example of the sort of medical miracles transplants can accomplish. Hes had two heart transplants, one at the age of 12, the other in 2008 at the age of 28. Now, four years later, he is a full-fledged member of the PGA Tour, playing in his rookie season at age 32.

Im just a regular guy playing golf, he insisted during an interview. But I guess maybe Im not that regular.

He is also a gifted golfer, a man who visualized returning to the game he loves while recovering from his second transplant four years ago, even if most of his doctors told him they didnt think it was possible.

Hes been through more and overcome more than anyone I have ever known, his long-time teacher, Miami-based Jim McLean, told CBSsports.com earlier this year. I remember visiting him in his hospital room and the doctors told him he was pretty much through with professional golf. He has already achieved more than anyone could have expected. His comeback, its unreal.

Certainly, its a remarkable story for the former University of Georgia All-American and member of the 2001 Walker Cup team.

In 2008, Compton was playing in a Nationwide Tour event when he duck hooked a drive late in his round and missed the cut. He flew back home to Miami and a few days later was out fishing with friends when he began to suffer intense pain in his shoulder blades. He was taken to the hospital and told hed had a major heart attack, with a blocked artery.

He was soon on a transplant list, eventually receiving the heart of a 26-year-old man who had been killed when his bicycle was hit by a pickup truck. Within a year, Compton was back playing competitive golf again. In 2009, he made two cuts on the PGA Tour playing on sponsors exemptions and in 2010, he played 36 holes in a single day to qualify for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

In 2011, he played in 18 Nationwide Tour events and finished 13th on the money list, earning an automatic promotion to the PGA Tour. His season also included a victory in the Mexican Open when he shot 65 in the final round.

This year, hes played in 15 events and made ten cuts and about 230,000. His main goal now is to keep his card for the 2013 season. A victory would obviously give him a two-year exemption. Without a win, he would have to earn about 700,000 to keep his card for next season.

Despite all those made cuts, his rookie year has been something of a disappointment if only because his best finish has been a tie for 26th in the Honda Classic just up the road from his home in Coral Gables, Fla. Hes shown flashes of brilliance, including a 67 in the first round of the Memorial three weeks ago, but his weekend scoresincluding three straight 75s in that event-- have been a problem all season.

Stamina is always a little bit of a factor, he said, but Ive also made some bad decisions on club selection. Theres also something to be said for playing a course four or five times and getting to know it. As a rookie, its always hard because you really dont know the lay of the land.

You know how you feel when you eat a meal and youre satisfied? I just want to feel that way after a tournament. I havent felt that way this year. My game has been hit and miss, sporadic. Im hoping thats going to change.

Still, Compton is hardly a complainer. He knows hes got to play better to keep his Tour playing privileges, particularly with his short game. He also knows hes a role model for so many others, a responsibility he does not take lightly.

Theres part of me thats chasing to do something that nobody has done, he said earlier in the season. At the end of the day, I dont care if I make a lot of money. I still want to be in my back yard hosing my plants and hosing down the patio and doing the simple things.

I think the talent is there. Theres a lot more to this game than just talent, but I cant wait as much as you can.

Quick Links

Investigation finds Maryland culpable in death of player

jordan-terps-death-usat.jpg
USA Today

Investigation finds Maryland culpable in death of player

TOWSON, Md. -- An independent investigation into the death of University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair has determined that trainers on the scene did not follow proper procedures after he collapsed on the field.

McNair was hospitalized on May 29 after a team workout and died June 13. The family attorney said the cause of death was heatstroke.

Dr. Rod Walters, a former college athletic trainer and sports medicine consultant who led the investigation launched by the school following McNair's death, said Friday "there was a failure to identify symptoms and aggressively treat it."

Maryland athletic director Damon Evans acknowledged last month that "mistakes were made" by the training staff in the treatment of McNair, a 19-year-old sophomore offensive lineman.

Terrapins head coach DJ Durkin is on administrative leave while an unrelated external investigation into the culture of the football program is being conducted.

MORE TERPS NEWS:

Quick Links

Wizards' 2018-19 storyline No. 3: Where do the Wizards fit in the new-look East?

Wizards' 2018-19 storyline No. 3: Where do the Wizards fit in the new-look East?

With Wizards training camp set to begin next week, we at NBC Sports Washington are counting down the five biggest storylines for the team as they start a new season. Today, at No. 3, a look at the remodeled Eastern Conference and where the Wizards fit… 

The transformation of the NBA's Eastern Conference this summer was not unlike the end and beginning of a new era in presidential politics. LeBron James, who reigned over the conference for nearly a decade, is gone. His eight-year term of Finals appearances out of the East is complete. Now a wide range of candidates are lining up to be the next power-players and it's a crowded field.

Seizing the empty throne

James' departure has had a massive effect on teams in the East, whether they ran into his Cavs or Heat in the playoffs repeatedly over the years or were affected by his presence indirectly. James going West paves the way for a new East representative in the NBA Finals and that allows everyone to dream a little bigger.

Though the Wizards never faced James in the playoffs during his streak of eight straight NBA Finals appearances, Washington players themselves have remarked about the opportunity created in wake of James leaving. They, along with the Celtics, Sixers, Raptors and other perennial playoff teams in the East, are gunning to pick up where James and Cleveland left off.

That arms race included significant changes for the Wizards this summer. They shook up their starting lineup by trading Marcin Gortat and signing Dwight Howard to a two-year contract. They brought in veterans like Austin Rivers and Jeff Green to shore up depth on their bench. They also kept their draft picks for the first time since 2015, using the first round selection to take Troy Brown, Jr. of Oregon.

Though questions remain about how it will all be put together, the Wizards appear to have improved themselves year-over-year. As long as John Wall is healthier than he was last season when he missed 41 games, it's logical to expect them to be back in the mix as contenders in the East. Exactly how high they are capable of going, however, is a big question entering this season.

Continuous growth

That's because despite James leaving, the East has grown deeper at the top in recent years. The Celtics have made the Eastern Conference Finals in two straight seasons and last year finished one win away from the NBA Finals. They did that without Gordon Hayward, who was lost for the season on opening night, and Kyrie Irving, who missed the playoffs due to injury.

The Celtics were good enough to win 55 games last season and without their two of their best and most accomplished players. If they are healthy and guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continue to develop, the Celtics deserve their status as favorites in the East.

The Raptors disappointed in the playoffs this past spring by getting swept by James and the Cavs in the second round. But they still won 59 games during the regular season and should be able to maintain their success with Kawhi Leonard now in DeMar DeRozan's place.

Toronto will ultimately be judged by what they do in the playoffs and they have plenty to prove, but no one should underestimate their ability to take care of business during the regular season. The Raptors have won at least 48 games in each of the past five years and 50 or more in the last three.

The Sixers had by any measure a dreadful offseason, first with the firing of their general manager and then with a fruitless free agent period, followed by an injury to first round pick Zhaire Smith. But Philadelphia didn't really have to add much to their roster to remain in the East's elite.

The Sixers already won 52 games last season and boast two of the best young players in the NBA in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. If they, along with Markelle Fultz, can stay healthy and continue developing, the Sixers will only rise from here.

Most would probably put the Wizards in that next tier, after the trio of Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia at the top, in terms of expected playoff seeding. But they should enter the season hopeful they can supplant one of those teams because they have the talent to do so.

By any means

One problem is that history shows the Wizards have struggled to make that leap. To get there, they would probably have to win 50 games or more and they haven't done that since the 1978-79 season. They also haven't been higher than a four-seed in the playoffs since that year.

The Wizards have been the No. 4 seed as recently as 2016-17, and that comes with the nice bonus of home court advantage in the first round. But to go higher than four, they will need to demonstrate a level of consistency not seen for their franchise in almost 40 years.

Before the Wizards set their sights on the top teams in the East, they will need to separate themselves from the others who are in a similar position. Just like the Wizards, teams like the Pacers, the Bucks and Heat have dreams of a breakout year.

The Wizards definitely have the roster talent to finish ahead of that pack. Washington has two All-Stars, something those teams can't boast. But all three of those teams had better records than the Wizards did last season and Indiana and Milwaukee have All-NBA players. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in particular, is good enough to change the landscape in the East on his own, if he makes the MVP leap many have been waiting for.

In order for the Wizards to emerge from the middle of the conference and become Finals contenders, health will of course be key. They will also need to get re-establish a homecourt advantage and find a way to capitalize against lesser teams. Last season, the Wizards had the fewest home wins and victories against below-.500 opponents of any playoff team.

With James out of the picture, the Eastern Conference appears more open than it has been in years. The Wizards eye an opportunity for themselves, but they aren't alone.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: