This week's AT&T National will be Erik Compton's 29th start on the PGA Tour, on which his unique story — twice a heart-transplant recipient — has made him a frequent recipient of sponsor's exemptions over the last decade.
There's a different outlook, though, as he arrives at Aronimink Golf Club. A PGA Tour card no longer is the goal; it's the next chapter.
"It's just a lifelong dream," said Compton, 31, whose win at last week's Mexico Open all but assures him a card as one of the Nationwide Tour's top 25 in earnings. "From everything that I've gone through and being down in the dumps to just now turning it around — it's a great feeling."
A little more than three years ago, Compton was giving his golf gear away. The donor heart he received at age 12 was weakening, and the wait for a new one had become discouraging.
"At that time, I wasn't so much worried about the golf," he said. "I was worried about living."
Now sporting the heart of a former college volleyball player, Compton seems to have found the balance between staying sharp and fighting fatigue. Once a range rat, he now spends no more than 25 minutes on the practice tee.
The Miami native compares it to fishing: "You're not practicing your cast; you've either got it or you don't."
Fredrik Jacobson, last week's winner in Hartford, Conn., and St. Jude champ Harrison Frazar are almost certain to book passage from a special six-event PGA Tour money list from The Players Championship through the AT&T National. Paul Goydos is third and likely needs a runner-up finish to bump Frazar.
Berths also await the highest player not already in the field from among the top five at both the AT&T National and French Open. The final two will come from the same criteria at next week's John Deere Classic and Scottish Open.
— Jeff Shain