Ten months ago, Erik Compton considered retiring. The double heart transplant recipient was struggling on the golf course and had gone through a difficult divorce off it. His body, and mind, had taken a beating.
But Compton soldiered on and—despite narrowly missing out on finishing in the top 25 during last year’s Web.com Tour Finals to earn back his PGA Tour card—entered 2019 with a renewed energy and optimism.
Now the 39-year-old is in a position that seemed improbable if not impossible a year ago. With one round to go at the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic, Compton has a share of the lead after a two-over 74 on Tuesday that left him tied with Willy Wilcox and John Oda.
Should Compton go on to win, it would be the second victory of his career (the 2011 Mexico Open on the then-Nationwide Tour being the other). It would also go a long way toward getting back to the PGA Tour.
It likely won’t be easy.
After opening with rounds of 69-65, Compton made just two birdies in the third round, along with two bogeys (including one on a par 5) and a double (on a par 3). He had a chance to grab the lead by himself but managed only a par on the par-5 18th.
He was hardly the only player to struggle, though. On a windswept day at the Abaco Club, just six players broke par and only two, including Wilcox, broke 70.
But if there’s a player in the field equipped to handle a tough road, it’s a guy who has been through two heart transplants, still takes 25-30 pills a day and made it all the way to finishing second at the 2014 U.S. Open.
“It doesn’t feel that far removed,” Compton said last year of the type of golf he played five years ago at Pinehurst. "A lot has happened in that time frame, but I’d like to make another run like that before my career is over.”
One more round and he could be on his way.