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Golf Tidbits: Compton's comeback to be cart-aided

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - For young golfers, especially those with disabilities, Erik Compton should be a new hero.

Back in June, Compton had his second heart transplant. Yup, you read that correctly, his second heart transplant. In addition to improving his health, will heart No. 3 be the key to Comptons's success on the course? Only time will tell.

An accomplished amateur golfer, Compton has won on a pair of smaller tours -- the Canadian Tour and the Hooters Tour -- but is hoping to again have the chance to break through and win on the Nationwide Tour, or for that matter, the PGA Tour.

In his limited appearances on the PGA Tour, Compton's best finish was a tie for 40th. On the Nationwide, he was a playoff loser at the 2004 Wichita Open. That was one of a few top-10 finishes on the Nationwide Tour.

Compton's fight to regain his Nationwide Tour status and eventually earn a place on the PGA Tour will start in about two weeks, when he tees it up at the first stage of the PGA Tour's qualifying school.

The 28-year-old Compton appealed to the PGA Tour requesting that he be able to use a golf cart during the tournament. Using a cart is not allowed on the PGA Tour, but a player can appeal to the PGA Tour for the right to use a golf cart via the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The first such case of this happening took place in 2001, when Casey Martin sued for the right to ride a cart because he had a birth defect known as Klippel Trenaunay Weber syndrome.

KT, as it is known, is recognizable by three traits - a "port-wine stain," a type of birthmark caused by blood vessel abnormalities, excessive enlargement of one limb -- most often a leg -- or Varicose (dilated or swollen) veins that allow blood to flow into the legs but not back to the heart.

Martin, soon after winning on the Nationwide Tour, won the lawsuit as well. However, he struggled after picking up that Nationwide Tour victory. Martin did make it to the PGA Tour for one year, but was unable to keep his tour card and eventually stopped competing on the PGA and Nationwide Tours.

As for Compton, who recently found out that he will be able to ride a cart at the first stage of Q-School, the cart will help as he has not been able to build his stamina enough to walk 18 holes.

"I feel really good about the news," Compton told the South Florida Sun- Sentinel. "It takes a lot of stress off me, and it gives me a realistic chance."

Not only did Compton have to request the usage of a cart, he also had to clear some of his medication thanks to the PGA Tour's new drug policy.

Among the 30 anti-rejection pills Compton takes is a beta blocker, which is on the PGA Tour's list of banned substances. Since he needs it as part of his medication protocol, he was cleared to continue taking the medication.

GOLF SPOTLIGHT RETURNING TO PHILADELPHIA?

A quick glance at the largest television markets shows that Philadelphia is one of four major markets among the top 20 that does not have an annual PGA Tour stop. If you include the Champions Tour, Philadelphia and Denver would be the only two cities in the top-20 media markets without a tour stop in their general vicinity.

There are no indications that any event is headed to the Philadelphia area any time soon, despite a dearth of world class golf courses.

However, over the next five years, two of the area's top courses will host three separate events.

Merion Golf Club, annually one of the top-10 courses in the nation, will host the 2009 Walker Cup. That is the amateur version of the Ryder Cup, with amateurs from the United States squaring off against a team comprised of amateurs from Great Britain & Ireland.

In 2013, Merion will also host the U.S. Open. Concessions have to be made by the USGA, as the course can only hold about 20,000 fans per day as opposed to the 50,000 or more that can be crammed into some of the courses that host the Open.

Joining Merion in the spotlight could be Aronimink Golf Club. Aronimink members will meet next week and then vote on whether or not to host the AT&T National, hosted by Tiger Woods. The tournament's normal host course, Congressional, will be unavailable, prompting the vote. The course is hosting the 2011 U.S. Open and will be closed in 2010 for renovations for the Open. Organizers from the Tiger Woods foundation hoped to move the event for two years and after a lengthy search, they zeroed in on Aronimink as the potential host site.

Aronimink last hosted a major event in 2003, when John Jacobs claimed the Senior PGA Championship.

If the membership votes to host the event, Woods would likely make his first professional appearance in the Philadelphia area in 2010. Woods, who has yet to visit Aronimink, could play as many as three times in the Philadelphia suburbs between 2010-13.

MINI-TIDBITS

- The European Tour announced its 2009 schedule the other day. The slate kicks off November 6, 2008 and runs through the Dubai World Championship, scheduled for November 19-22, 2009. The schedule includes 53 tournaments, including two that will be played in 2008 and 2009, both as part of the 2009 European's Tour International Schedule.

- We've all missed Tiger Woods in action. However, I'd bet many haven't missed his caddie Steve Williams, who yells at cameramen and fans alike for taking pictures of Woods while he is swinging. Williams, an accomplished race car driver and owner in his spare time, will return to television later this month as a broadcaster at the newly created Kiwi Challenge.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

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