Spotlight on | Golf

Local golfers Erik Compton, Lexi Thompson continue to be on the rise

 
 
Erik Compton tees off on the 15th during Round Three of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 26, 2014 in Avondale, La.
Erik Compton tees off on the 15th during Round Three of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 26, 2014 in Avondale, La.
Stacy Revere / Getty Images

Special to the Miami Herald

April was a noteworthy month for South Florida’s top golfers on the sport’s biggest stages — the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour.

We’re not talking about all those professional golfers who move to South Florida, usually clustering in the Palm Beach or Orlando area so they can hone their skills for 365 days a year. We’re talking about true South Floridians, the most-notable recently being Erik Compton and Lexi Thompson.

They were born in South Florida. They grew up in South Florida. They still call South Florida their true homes, despite traveling to tournaments all over the world.

Thompson, born in Coral Springs, has had an illustrious start to her LPGA career, with the biggest achievement coming earlier this month when she won her first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, at age 19.

Compton, born in Miami, hasn’t reached that status comparatively, but is smiling all the way to the bank. By finishing tied for fifth in the Zurich Classic in Avondale, La., last weekend, he brought his 2014 winnings to a career-high $810,483.

And there’s a lot more golf to be played this year.

At age 34, Compton seems to be climbing the leaderboard and climbing to new career heights.

“I’ve been out here for a while,” Compton admitted.

Compton has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but he still has high hopes. Recent results buoy that possibility. This year’s $800,00-plus earnings comes immediately after his second-best earnings of $651,600 in 2013.

Not bad for a guy who turned pro in 2001 and in 2002 made $22,438 in PGA Tour events.

His best PGA Tour finish to date was a fourth in the 2013 Honda Classic.

Compton fully knows, and reluctantly accepts, that his health history of having two heart transplants (1992 and 2008) often outshines the recognition of his success on the golf course. Nevertheless, part of his PGA routine is to visit hospitals — particularly children’s hospitals — in an effort to give patients hope simply by talking to them.

Only fitting that five months after his second transplant he tied for 60th in his first tournament back. Even more fitting, the tournament was the Children’s Miracle Network Classic.

That marked a big achievement.

And there is one more big achievement Compton would like to accomplish — to win a PGA tournament.

“I just have to get it done,” Compton said.

NOVA JOINS BARRY

Nova Southeastern will join longtime rival Barry University in the Division II South/Southeast Super Regional May 5-7 in Savannah, Ga. Barry is ranked No. 1 in the nation. Lynn is the No. 2-seeded team in the tournament with Nova Southeastern third.

The Nova Southeastern women’s team also qualified for its Super Regional on May 4-6 at Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club in Dade City. Nova Southeastern is seeded fifth. Lynn is the top seed with Barry No. 3.

THAT’S A FACT, JACK

In Caddyshack, possibly golf’s most-famous movie, one of the classic lines is Bill Murray as Carl Spackler uttering, “Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper now about to become the Masters champion.” He delivers that line while swinging away at flowers with a garden tool. The words were not in the script. Murray improvised the lines.

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