Erik Compton, twice a heart transplant recipient, has put himself in contention to win the US Open with the round of his life.
On a baked and difficult Pinehurst No.2 course, Compton and Rickie Fowler shot three-under-par 67s – the only sub-par rounds of the day – to be tied second, five strokes behind Germany’s Martin Kaymer (72).
“This is obviously a very special week to be playing well,” Compton said. “To be in the mix at the US Open, it’s a dream come true. Tomorrow is a big day.”
The 34-year-old American, whose mother is Norwegian, is playing in only his second major after missing the cut at the 2000 US Open in Pebble Beach. He has played 13 pro seasons but never won a US PGA Tour title.
“Doesn’t mean I can’t compete because I’ve had a few detours in my life,” Compton said. “I’m looking forward to getting out there.”
Facing tension-packed putts is less intense for someone who received his first heart transplant at age 12 in 1992 and a second in 2008 after driving himself to a hospital following a heart attack.
“I have been through a lot in my life, a lot more pressure situations than hitting a tee shot on 18,” Compton said. “Putting things in perspective may help me.”
“I had lunch with Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield last week and he winked at me and said I would have a special week. It was neat.
“So maybe it’s just kind of a self-fulfilling thing that I brought on myself but I felt like I was going to have a great week.”
Compton practiced with South African major winners Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Ernie Els and realized he could do well.
“We had a great money game. I felt comfortable,” Compton said. “I joked around with them.”
Compton said that if his fairytale golf story should have a major win as its next chapter on Sunday, it might just be the end for him.
“I might just sail off and never play golf again,” Compton said.
“If I were to win the tournament, it would be obviously something that would be extremely special, not only for me, but for my family, those who have been around me and those who have been through some tough times.”