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TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP


June 17, 2014


Erik Compton


CROMWELL, CONNECTICUT

DOUG MILNE:  We'd like to welcome Erik Compton to the interview room here at the Travelers Championship.  Anything new or exciting in your life going on?  Congratulations on your T2 finish last week at the U.S. Open.  Obviously clearly one of the biggest stories from last week, and we know you're here, we know you're probably tired, but you've got the task at hand here, the Travelers Championship this week, along with a lot of other things going on.  I'll turn it over to you and maybe bring us up to speed.
ERIK COMPTON:¬† Yeah, last week‑‑ it doesn't feel like last week, it feels like it was a few hours ago.¬† It was a very exciting, solid four days of golf.¬† It still hasn't been able to really hit me.¬† Trying to get back to a lot of friends and family and a lot of congratulations, people who have supported me really around the globe.¬† You know, just right back at it, I guess.¬† I'm right back here trying to play this week, and I don't know if I'm going to be as well prepared as I was last week for the Open, but I'm going to try my best, and I look forward to the challenge.
I mean, each week somebody brings their "A"game, and you have to‑‑ you just have to give it your best every week.¬† That's what the PGA TOUR brings.
DOUG MILNE:  Just wanted to ask, you mentioned you're here to try and win this week.  You've got just an extraordinary list of things going on obviously in support of Donate Life.  Just talk a little bit about how you find that balance to do where your heart wants you to be, and at the same time, like you said, you've got a job to do.
ERIK COMPTON:  Right.  Well, I think it kind of worked out really, really nice.  When I first turned pro or first got my PGA TOUR card, I teamed up with Genentech and we had a goal in mind to be able to share my story and help others and spread the word about organ donation and transplantation.
After a week like I had last week, we have our team here, so we're able to enjoy each other and celebrate what I accomplished last week.  It is a busy week because it was on the books that we were going to do a hospital visit and do the junior clinic and do some media stuff to alert the community about organ donation.
So with the play that I had last week, it kind of spoke for itself on a national level, so I'm just happy that everybody who has supported me over the last three years and believed in me, we've kind of reached a really great goal, and that goes from the Genentech team to the Hugo Boss team to my coach Charlie Deluca, who's been spending a lot of time with me over the last few years, and especially last week.¬† We had a game plan about how the course was going to play, and we shaved down the greens at home and hit a lot of‑‑ emulated a lot of shots that I was going to have at the U.S. Open.
My wife, Barbara, she said, go to the Open and make it a priority to get rest, go back to the room and just chill out, and that's basically what I did.  I turned the phone off and focused on my game, and I think going forward for other major championships, you know, I'd like her to be there with me to celebrate another great moment that I had last week, but I feel like I learned a lot from how to handle myself under those situations, and I think I was able to perform at that level with such intense competition because of what I went through as a kid.  I feel like I've been groomed my whole life to be able to handle a big pressure situation like we had at the U.S. Open.

Q.  Catch us up to speed on your story, where you're at right now and how you're feeling.
ERIK COMPTON:¬† I feel great.¬† I got a great night's rest last night.¬† I feel my best when I'm moving around, so being able to get up, play nine holes like I did today, you know, I'm in good shape.¬† I've trained myself in the off‑season, and it's hard to train during the season, so when I have some time, I'll get home and try to get in the gym a little bit more.¬† I think now that I have a schedule, you know, a huge goal of mine, I would love to play on the Ryder Cup team, and that's now a possibility if I continue to play really, really well.¬† I'm 19, I think, in the standings now.¬† Everything is new to me now.¬† Being able to prepare for the British Open, I think that style of golf suits my game, a lot of pars and creative shots.¬† You know, it's just a dream of mine to be able to say that, and now I can actually live it.

Q.  You said you got something like 350 text messages.  Can you share what some of them were?
ERIK COMPTON:  Yeah, the best is when you get a number and it doesn't say who it is and it's a long message.  You never want to say who is this, but I've had a lot of great friends reach out to me.  Actually Keegan Bradley, he wrote me a nice note on Sunday.  He had a great Sunday round.  That was kind of cool for him to be encouraging on my game before the round, and he went out and had a great round.
You know, I spoke with Ray Allen a little bit.¬† He and I talked a little before I went to the U.S. Open about just visualizing shots.¬† He's one of the greatest three‑point shooters of all time, and I had been struggling a little bit with the putter prior to the thing.¬† A lot of the greats in sports have reached out.¬† I'm not going to go through a list of names, but it's really cool to have a lot of guys who have been very encouraging on my story and really rooting for me.
I love other sports.  I've always considered myself a sports guy.  It's really neat.

Q.  What are the couple of the things you mentioned growing up as a kid that you harkened back to last week?
ERIK COMPTON:¬† I just think the mental toughness, you know, things that I went through as a kid, you know, they prepared me for tough moments.¬† But realistically, I don't think‑‑ I mean, the U.S. Open is tough, but it's not like it's a life‑threatening situation.¬† You're trying to figure out how to hit a bunker shot on 18.¬† It's a hand‑and‑eye coordination game that we play.¬† But you have to be ready to accept the crowd and the atmosphere that we're playing in is very electric, and that can be very distracting for players if you haven't been through that.
Even though I haven't had the success that some of the other players have had at major competitions, I have been groomed since I was a little kid to play, when I played top college golf, amateur golf and some other pro events that are tough events.  I've had some detours so I haven't had as many opportunities to play in major championships and big tournaments as other people, but you know, I'm playing great golf right now, and really just enjoying it.  I mean, I'm learning every year I'm getting slowly better, and we still have a lot of golf to be played.  I just feel like it's a dream come true and a blessing.  Every piece of the puzzle has led me to where I am today.

Q.  What was the biggest lesson you took out of Pinehurst?
ERIK COMPTON:  I just think that the beating that you can take out there and the patience.  I learned my long game is a strength of mine.  I think there's a lot of long shots that you have to hit out there.  Yardage control, I mean, every aspect of your game has to be on during that week, and then I also learned that at the end of the day, it's about the competitor and how you handle the situation.  When you get yourself back in a major championship when it's crunch time, you can reflect on that and know how to handle the situation.
I think the way I handled the situation was slowing the whole process down.  You know, on 18 I told my caddie, Victor, I just said, look around, look at the crowd, enjoy this moment, and then I hit the putt.  I made the putt.  I think he was more amped than I was.  You know, I felt like the more the heat came on, the slower things got for me, and I felt more comfortable.

Q.  When you share your story with kids, how do they react?
ERIK COMPTON:¬† Well, it's hard with kids.¬† I've visited kids‑‑ I'm 34 now.¬† I remember visiting a young kid, his name was Kevin Garcia, and he was 12 years old and he did not want to speak to me.¬† He did not want to speak to anybody.¬† But I relayed him a little bit of a message and I left a golf bag in his room, and when I left it made a huge impact on him because now he's a huge golfer and he's 21 years old and he's doing well with his transplant.¬† You know, you never know the impact that you're going to have on a kid.
But I think I try to let the kids know to have a wild imagination and have big dreams because I think all of us in this room have put ourselves and our mind in a bigger place, and we aim to go there, and if you don't have a vision in your mind of where you want to be, then you're lost.  And when you're in a hospital room and that's a very scary moment when you're lost, and kids are putting their faith in the doctors and the parents, and sometimes doctors can be very scary.  When somebody comes in who's overcome some of the similar things that they're going through, it gives them a breath of fresh air and something to dream for.

Q.  After two heart transplants what have you learned about yourself?
ERIK COMPTON:  I mean, every day I'm learning.  This is a new situation for me now.  You know, I have to handle maybe a little bit more attention.  I'm going to be the flavor for the next week and a half, two weeks, and then now if I don't start performing at the level and continue, I'm going to be a bum, right?
But it's all new, and I feel blessed to be somewhat of, I guess, a person that's setting the standard to learn a little bit more about transplant, what we can do with it.  You know, I'm just enjoying the journey, and there's still a lot of golf in life left ahead of me.  I don't really know how much more I can elaborate on the fact that I'm so lucky and blessed to be this far in my dream.  But I have put myself in my mind where I am today, so I'm living that.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ERIK COMPTON:  I think all of us on the PGA TOUR are used to that.  I mean, you have a good round and you're the talk of the day, and then somebody else has a good round and they're the talk of the day.  But I'm comfortable being able to talk about my story and transplant and spreading the message, and I think there are two stories.  There's the golf and then also the medical story.  Regardless of whether I don't play good golf, I'm always in a room at someplace or hospital or at functions sharing my story.  It's therapeutic for me to share my story, and I'm very comfortable with being in that situation.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ERIK COMPTON:  Well, I mean, I talked a little bit about it.  It would be a huge goal of mine to play in the Ryder Cup.  It would be a huge goal of mine to be a tournament winner on the PGA TOUR, and whether that's a major or a PGA TOUR event, whichever comes first, I mean, I'd love to win.  But winning comes as a result of hitting fairways and hitting the shots that you're supposed to hit.  You know, I don't get too caught up with it.  I know when I go to the first tee I have to hit the shot that I need to, and the rest comes with that.  But you do picture yourself in big moments, making a big putt, because that's what we all live for.
DOUG MILNE:  We know you've got a tight schedule, so we'll let you go.  Thanks for your time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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