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."
British openings: Just six vacancies remain in the British Open field, with four to be filled this weekend.
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.
Tap-ins: Bethpage Black is joining a rotation for the FedEx Cup's first "playoff" event, set to host The Barclays next year and again in 2016. The two-time U.S. Open stage joins New Jersey venues Liberty National, Ridgewood CC and this year's host, Plainfield CC. ... The LPGA is bringing a second event to Canada, where the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic debuts next year in Waterloo, Ontario.
— Jeff ShainCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun