Falls Short At Qualifying SchoolNovember 17, 2008
By David Shefter, USGA
Far Hills, N.J. - Former Walker Cupper Erik Compton was trying to
write a memorable story to this year's PGA Tour qualifying process.
Six months after undergoing a second heart operation, the former University
of Georgia standout was on the verge of making it to next month's
Q-School finals in California, where the worst scenario is conditional
status on the 2009 Nationwide Tour.
But Compton, who played in the 2001 Match at Ocean Forest Golf Club
in Sea Island, Ga., came up one stroke short at his second-stage qualifier
this past Saturday at Southern Hills Plantation in Brooksville, Fla.
Compton carded a final-round 73 (one over par) on the 7,557-yard layout
to finish at 6-under 282. The low 20 and ties advanced.
"If you live and die by the way I play and live life, it will catch
up with you,'' the 28-year-old Compton told ESPN.com. "The pressure
definitely got to me and I'm disappointed in that."
|Derek Fathauer, one of three amateurs to make
the cut at the 2008 U.S. Open, is close to earning his PGA Tour
card for the 2009 season.. (USGA Museum)|
Compton petitioned the PGA Tour to use a cart during qualifying because
of his condition, a request that was granted under the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA). A week prior to his second-stage qualifier,
Compton had been given a sponsor's exemption to the PGA Tour's season-ending
Children's Miracle Network event in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., where
he made the cut and finished tied for 60th.
"He would have had zero chance to play if he had to walk. Zero," said
Jim McLean, the noted instructor from the Doral Golf Resort in Miami
who has worked with Compton for years. "There's no way he should be
playing. No way he should be competing at this level. I'm very proud
Born with a congenital heart condition, Compton
underwent his first transplant at the age of 12. Last October, just
two days after missing the cut at a Nationwide Tour event in Boise,
Idaho, Compton felt something was wrong while fishing at home in
Florida. Doctors discovered 100 percent blockage in one of his arteries.
He had suffered a heart attack and another transplant was necessary.
In May, he received a second heart and Compton slowly gained enough
strength to resume playing. At first-stage qualifying, Compton finished
right on the cut, but a month later he wasn't so fortunate.
Several other past USGA champions and Walker Cup players, however,
did manage to survive the second stage last week.
In fact, two ex-Walker Cuppers earned medalist honors at their respective
sites. Todd Demsey, who played in the 1993 Match, shared top honors
with Camilo Benedetti at the Plantation Club at 13-under 275. Demsey,
a former Arizona State All-American, closed with a pair of 68s.
Chris Riley, winner of the 2002 PGA Tour Reno-Tahoe Open and a member
of the 1995 Walker Cup squad, shared top honors with Robert Damron
and Oskar Bergman at Callaway Gardens (Mountain View Course) in
Pine Mountain, Ga., carding 17-under 271. All four of Riley's rounds
were in the 60s, including an opening-round 66. Riley also was the
runner-up at the 1994 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
Three other players of note advanced from the Pine Mountain site.
Kevin Johnson, winner of the 1987 APL and a member of the '89 Walker
Cup team, tied for seventh at 12-under 276. Two strokes back of
him was Derek Fathauer, one of three amateurs to make the 36-hole
cut at the 2008 U.S. Open. Fathauer, a quarterfinalist at the 2007
U.S. Amateur and an '07 APL semifinalist, shot 10-under 278 to share
11th with five others, including 2007 Walker Cupper Webb Simpson.
Two-time APL champion (1991 and '93) and '93 Walker Cupper David
Berganio Jr. tied for 19th at Hombre Golf Club in Panama City Beach,
Fla., carding a 4-under total of 280. Also tying for 19th was 1998
APL runner-up Jason Dufner. Dufner lost the '98 final at Torrey
Pines to Trevor Immelman of South Africa, who claimed this past
year's Masters title.
At Deerwood Golf Club in Kingwood, Texas, 1977 U.S. Junior Amateur
champion and '83 Walker Cupper Willie Wood tied for third at 9-under
279. He shared that spot with 2005 Walker Cupper Michael Putnam.
Both players closed with even-par 72s on the 7,108-yard layout.
Brad Elder, a member of the 1997 Walker Cup team, tied for seventh
at 6-under 282.
Robert Gamez, a 1989 Walker Cup performer who holed out his approach
shot for an eagle-2 at the 72nd hole to beat Greg Norman at the
1990 Nestle Invitational, joined Demsey among the 21 players to
advance from the Brooksville site. Gamez finished tied for fourth
at 11-under 277. Lee Williamson, the 2002 APL runner-up to Ryan
Moore, tied for 12th at 8-under 280.
Besides Compton, the notables who failed to qualify included Jonathan
Moore and Chris Kirk from the 2007 Walker Cup team, 2004 U.S. Amateur
runner-up Luke List, 2008 U.S. Open low amateur and '07 Amateur
runner-up Michael Thompson, two-time Walker Cupper Lee Williams
(2003 and '05), and 2003 Walker Cuppers Brock Mackenzie and Chris
Two more second-stage qualifiers are set to be held this week. The
Q-School finals are scheduled for Dec. 3-8 at PGA West (Nicklaus
Tournament and TPC Stadium courses) in La Quinta, Calif.
David Shefter is a staff writer for the USGA's
Digital Media Department. E-mail him with questions or comments