Erik Compton wins Nationwide Tour event, becomes ‘a player’

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

When Erik Compton won on Sunday at the Mexico Open, his first ever win on the Nationwide Tour, he said something that really can only make sense to those golfers in the ropes week in and week out. He told Golfweek's Sean Martin, "I've played on sponsor invites, and people have always given me a hard time that I'm 'the heart guy' ... I got that monkey off my back. I'm a player now."

For those that have ever watched a professional tournament, or seen Compton, the two-time heart transplant recipient, hit a golf shot, they would be baffled to think of him as anything but a player. But he doesn't mean he's now a player, as in someone that can go out and fire a low round. He's now a player in the sense that he's accepted by his peers. From now on, Compton will be just another one of the guys, and lose the charity look and feel from his fellow golfers.

It wasn't easy for the 31-year-old, but heck, what has been in his life? This is a guy that was dealing with viral cardiomyopathy at the age of 9, had his first heart trasplant in 1992 and is now on his third heart, but still trying to play this game at the highest level.

During a week that was far from regular on the Nationwide Tour (more than 12 hours of rain delays), Compton was the ultimate fighter, a role he's had to play for most of his life. He stuck it out, posting a final-round 65 that put him ahead of the field by two shots.

Now Compton is heading to the PGA Tour for real. He is second on the Nationwide money list, and after this win, who knows what Compton could do with a full season with the big boys. Just know this, PGA Tour members: Compton is a player now, and he's coming for you guys in 2012.