SAN DIEGO, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Double heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton has followed a tougher path than most of his peers to compete on the PGA Tour and so far he is relishing his 2013 campaign.
After tying for 31st in his first start of the season at the Sony Open in Hawaii, he missed the cut at last week’s Humana Challenge but has rebounded at the Farmers Insurance Open.
The 33-year-old American followed his opening 71 on the challenging South course with a superb seven-under-par 65 on the easier North layout to soar into contention for a maiden PGA Tour victory.
”I’ve been playing very, very well,“ Compton told reporters after mixing six birdies with an eagle at the ninth and a lone bogey. ”I played well last week. Unfortunately, I didn’t play well for about 20 minutes.
“I don’t think I‘m doing it any differently than I‘m doing last year. I feel maybe a little more confident and more aware of where I need to miss it and places to take advantage of.”
Compton, who was diagnosed with an enlarged heart as a child and had his first transplant aged 12, totaled only 23 putts on his way to an eight-under total of 136 on a rain-sodden day at Torrey Pines.
”I putted very, very well,“ he beamed. ”And I got off to a good start with the eagle on nine, then I told my caddy let’s pretend that we’re on the cut line and we’ve got to still keep playing good golf.
“With the weather like this ... we just tried to stay dry, and I took advantage of some good iron shots. I had some big misses, but I was able to still recover and make some birdies and pars.”
Compton, who had a second heart transplant in 2008, conceded he needed to perform better off the tee over the weekend at Torrey Pines after hitting only 10 of 28 fairways in the first two rounds.
“I’ve got to drive the ball a little bit better,” he said. “If I can get the ball on the fairway, then I feel good with the irons, and, hey, there is a lot of golf to play. So I’ve just got to take it one shot at a time.”
Compton, a veteran rookie on the PGA Tour last year who posted his best finish with a tie for 13th at the John Deere Classic, trails tournament leader Tiger Woods by three shots heading into Saturday’s third round. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)