LOS ANGELES – No one noticed Erik Compton sitting in the back of the room as he listened to the kind of stories he one day would like to tell.
They were more about golf than life.
Compton is more of an expert on the latter at the moment. He's a two-time heart transplant recipient.
Behind the microphone was Bill Haas, a FedEx Cup champion and six-time winner on the PGA Tour. One of his wins was at the Northern Trust Open three years ago when he rolled in a 45-foot birdie putt on the famous 10th hole at Riviera to beat Phil Mickelson and reigning PGA champion Keegan Bradley in a playoff. The most recent victory was a month ago at the Humana Challenge.
Compton remembers that one all too well. He and Haas were part of a four-way tie for the lead going into the final round, until Compton stalled and finished three shots behind. He still hasn't won.
Unless you call it a victory that he's alive.
"I'm in the press room because of my story," Compton said after Haas left the room. "My golf has been kind of so-so the last couple weeks. I haven't played great. I haven't been healthy. ... Watching Bill here, it's amazing what a career he's already had. You look at his golf, maybe I should learn a little bit from him, how he kind of just has that knack of winning."
Compton's next opportunity to win starts Thursday in the Northern Trust Open against the strongest field of the year. Compton already has had a full week.
He spent Monday filming a public service announcement at UCLA to raise awareness for organ donation with "Donate Life America." This tournament is one of several on tour this season when his mission will be given special attention.
Compton's story always gets more attention than his golf. He had his first heart transplant when he was 12 after being diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy. He suffered a heart attack in 2007, and with his heart pumping at 15 percent capacity, he drove himself to the hospital while calling everyone to say he loved them because he thought he wouldn't make it. He had another heart transplant six months later.
Now he is starting his fourth full season on the PGA Tour, each one a little better than the last. He finished 64th in the FedEx Cup standings last year, thanks to a pair of top-10 finishes and a runner-up finish in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. That not only earned him a trip back to the U.S. Open, he's playing in the Masters in April.
He is different from anyone else in golf, yet he shares the same frustrations.
"I know a lot of people want me to win, and people put a lot of pressure, added pressure, on me to win because it would be a great story," Compton said. "But I've got to really win for myself. With that said, if it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't."