Erik Compton closed his first round of the Quicken Loans National with four straight birdies Thursday afternoon, a stellar run that gave him a 3-under-par 68, two behind leader Greg Chalmers. And yet, he knows his reality.
“If I had 18 birdies today,” Compton said, “it would probably be the first question that I got. I’m used to it.”
Compton is playing the PGA Tour on his third heart, a fact that became more widely known when he tied for second at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst two weeks ago. His first transplant surgery came when he was 12, the next in 2008, when he was 28.
Now he is trying to concentrate on his golf — including a quest to make next month’s British Open.
“I’d like to think that my game, when I’m healthy and I’m feeling strong, my game is good enough to compete out here,” Compton said.
He began the first round on the back nine of Congressional Country Club’s Blue Course, so his closing flurry came with birdies of two par 5s — Nos. 6 and 9 — as well as the par-3 seventh and par-4 eighth.
Leesburg native Billy Hurley III loves this event for more reasons than just the golf — even though, two years ago, he finished tied for fourth, his best finish in a PGA Tour event. Since its inception in 2007 as the AT&T National, the Tiger Woods Foundation has used the event to honor the military — employing active service members as starters at the first and 10th tees and installing a giant wall off the 18th green that players can sign as thanks to military members for their service.
For Hurley, a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who still lives in Annapolis, that’s a difference-maker.
“It means more to me, I guess,” Hurley said. “It’s certainly the premiere event on tour as far as honoring the military. It’s very near and dear to my heart.”
Hurley also played well Thursday, opening with a 2-under 69 that puts him just three shots behind Chalmers. . . .
On Wednesday, Hudson Swafford wasn’t even in the field at Congressional, but he waited in Bethesda as the first alternate. When William McGirt withdrew, Swafford got a spot — and took advantage by shooting a 69 on Thursday. “Can’t thank Billy McGirt enough,” he joked. . . .
Friday afternoon could bring some interesting cut-watching. Even though the tournament is an invitational and thus plays with 120 players rather than the typical 156 who fill out a field at this time of year, players who finish the second round in the top 70 or tied for 70th will advance to the weekend.
The par-5 sixth hole played as the easiest hole, averaging just a hair more than 4.7 strokes over the 120-player field. No. 11 secured its spot as the hardest in tournament play. The 489-yard par 4 averaged 4.425 strokes and produced more double bogeys (five) than birdies (four).
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