FAIRHAVEN, Mass. -- Titleist Brand Ambassador Erik Compton was named the inaugural recipient of the PGA TOUR Courage Award at a presentation made by PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem at the season-opening Frys.com Open. Compton, a two-time heart transplant recipient, begins his third season on the PGA TOUR this week.
The PGA TOUR Courage Award is presented "to a player who, through courage and perseverance, has overcome extraordinary adversity, such as personal tragedy or debilitating injury or illness, to make a significant and meaningful contribution to the game of golf."
The Courage Award includes a $25,000 charitable contribution to be distributed to a charity of the award recipient's choice; this year's contribution will be shared by the Cardiovascular Institute of Miami and the Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation at Compton's request.
"Erik's story is a remarkable one in the fact he has overcome extraordinary odds to not only survive, but thrive," said Finchem. "In recent years, he has started a family with wife Barbara and daughter Petra, won a Web.com Tour event and played two years on the PGA TOUR. With Erik's show of perseverance and courage, along with his charitable work to encourage organ donation, he is a very fitting recipient of the inaugural PGA TOUR Courage Award."
"Through the help of family, doctors and friends, I have gone from being someone lying on his back in recovery to someone walking the fairways of the PGA Tour," said Compton. "Not only has playing on TOUR been a dream of mine, but it has also served greatly in the healing process. It has given me something to work toward, but also something to hope for. I'm incredibly grateful for this award and blessed to have the opportunity to be playing on the PGA TOUR."
"Erik is a wonderful player and ambassador for our brands, but more importantly, he is a person that transcends the game of golf," said Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet Company, comprised of Titleist and FootJoy. "As Erik has said, golf has been an important part of his healing process. However, he has parlayed his success on the course to providing hope off it to the thousands of transplant patients he touches through his many hospital visits and by those who have heard his compelling story. Further, there is no doubt he has played an integral role in saving the lives of others through his passionate message regarding the importance of becoming an organ donor. Erik is a deserving inaugural recipient of this award."
When Compton was 9 years old, he was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy, a condition that has forced him to undergo two heart transplants, the first being in 1992 at the age of 12. The Miami native began playing golf as part of his rehabilitation, and Compton went on to become the 1998 American Junior Golf Association Co-Player of the Year, a 2001 second-team All-America selection at the University of Georgia and a member of the 2001 United States Walker Cup Team.
Compton underwent a second transplant in 2008 after he suffered a heart attack and was forced to drive himself to the hospital. Six months later, he made the cut at the PGA TOUR's Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic as a Sponsor Exemption. Compton won the 2011 Mexico Open on the Web.com Tour and later earned his PGA TOUR card for 2012 by finishing 13th on the Web.com Tour's season-ending money list. In 2013, he earned his first career top-10 finish, a tie for fourth at The Honda Classic, and finished inside the top 100 in the FedExCup standings.
Compton is involved with the Transplant Foundation and Donate Life America. With nearly 120,000 individuals awaiting an organ transplant, Compton's efforts with Donate Life America aim to help raise awareness of organ donation and transplantation.