Erik Compton: Round Three Interview Room
MIKE TROSTEL: Like to welcome Erik Compton to the media center. Erik shot a 3-under par 67 today, for a 54-hole total of 3-under, 207. Erik, conditions were a little more difficult today, but heard you talking about how you think your game is suited to a U.S. Open style course. Talk a little bit about that, please.
ERIK COMPTON: Well, I think that my attitude suits a U.S. Open style course because I don't ever give up. I'm extremely hard on myself, but I tend to forget the shots I hit bad and move to the next hole. And sometimes I don't even know what hole I'm on, because I'm just trying to execute and then move to the next shot. I guess that's kind of reflective of how I always lived my life. If you have a bad situation or a bad day, you get up and try to do it again. But when I am playing well, I don't have a lot of curve on my golf ball. And if any, it's moving a little bit left-to-right and I think a lot of the hole shapes out here suit my game. I had lunch with Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield last week and he kind of winked at me and said, "Your game will suit Pinehurst." So he had a smile on his face and it was kind of neat to -- when I qualified, I let him know that I qualified. And I had a lot of people who have supported me, my coach Charlie and I have been working night and day on putting before we did came here this week. When I was on the putting green, I felt like I was out there alone with him just hitting putts and focusing on the targets. Just kind of like I was on the driving range.
MIKE TROSTEL: You had an eagle and five birdies today. We'll open it up to questions.
Q. We were talking to your mom earlier, she said she noticed the high scores from the morning wave and mentioned it to you. Do you remember that? What did you reply to her?
ERIK COMPTON: I just told her to get up and walk away. (Laughter.) I try to avoid my parents during a Major Championship because it's a totally different mindset. If you're not -- I love my parents and I love all my friends, but you just don't want to hear about what's going on, because you need to get ready when you go play. It doesn't matter what anybody else does, it matters what you do and your mindset and I decided that I was going to hit fairways and greens and try and make the best executions I can. That's all you can ask yourself to do. Martin is playing obviously very, very good golf and a lot of other people are playing very good golf. But you have to play your game, you can't control what other guys do. And out here you have to hit the fairways and you have to hit the coarse of the greens.
Q. You said you took some time off after punching your card, was it the round yesterday or the conversation with Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield, when did you start to get an idea that you might be able to score on this golf course?
ERIK COMPTON: I think when I played the practice round, I played with Ernie and Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. We had a great money game. I felt comfortable when we were playing with those guys. Those guys are all Major champions and I joked around with them told them I was the Mexican Open champion. But realistically, you know, I mean, for you guys and people who are hearing my name maybe for the first time, at a Major Championship, we play a lot of Major golf tournaments on the PGA TOUR and I've played a lot of golf in my life. Sometimes my great golf is not on the PGA TOUR, maybe it's at the Canadian TOUR or maybe it's at web.com TOUR or maybe it's in Europe somewhere. So for me it's the same guys, and when I get on the tee, you don't really pay attention to what's going on, you're just trying to hit the golf ball.
Q. Two-part question. Will you try to fly Barbara and Petra here for tomorrow's round? And if you were able to have the round of your life tomorrow, on Father's Day, what would it mean to you?
ERIK COMPTON: No, it would mean the absolute world to me. It's a great question. They didn't come out this week and I don't know if they're going to come out tonight or tomorrow, it's a long trip for hopefully one round of golf. But if I were to win the tournament, it would be obviously something that would be extremely special, not only for me, but for my family and for those who have been around me and I think also for the community and those who have been through some tough times. I might just sail off and never play golf again. (Laughter.)
Q. How do you balance wanting to get the background of your personal story out there, but also just wanting to be known as a talented professional golfer?
ERIK COMPTON: Well, I think there's weeks and I plan weeks to share my story and visit hospitals. This week I have really been kind of under the radar and trying to focus on golf. I'm in here because I'm playing well, but I just, early in the week there wasn't much going on, I was just, for this tournament, enjoying focusing on my game. Next week I'm going to do a lot of stuff, visit the hospital and do stuff with building a live next week and I'm really going to enjoy that. And some weeks I play great with that. So there's no rhyme or reason to the energy levels, but this week is obviously a very special week to be playing well and to be in the mix at the U.S. Open, it's a dream come true, but tomorrow's a big day.
Q. Do you ever tire of questions more about your background than your golf game?
ERIK COMPTON: Sure. I mean, sometimes. It depends on when I'm grabbed for a certain question, yeah.
Q. Aside from the obvious, how important is the late tee time tomorrow, just from a fatigue standpoint and especially given that it's been a particularly long week for you especially and secondly, do you think you can just sort of overcome that given the position you're in and does that give you maybe a little more adrenaline?
ERIK COMPTON: Yeah, I'm not worried about tomorrow as far as energy. I felt better today than I did Friday. I have nothing to lose. Nobody expects me to do anything. So I think everybody in the top-10 has won a tournament or won a Major and if I go out and shoot 90, I don't think anybody will be surprised. But if I shoot 67 again you may be surprised. But tomorrow is just another day of golf and like I said, it's all about execution. I've been playing golf for a long time to know that it's a difficult game and hopefully you show up for the first tee and you have it.
Q. Can you talk about how the lunch with Jack came about? Did he approach you or was it just a -- how did that come about with Jack and what did you take out of that?
ERIK COMPTON: Muirfield's a great place, special place to me. The Nicklaus family has been extremely nice. A lot of the legends of the game have taken an interest in my story. I spoke with Chi Chi Rodriguez this morning and he told me I was going to go out and shoot 64 and he was -- he told me how tough I was. There's different characters of the game that I feel like I've gained strength from and it's nice to have the greats of the game take an interest in me because of my story and it just goes to show you what great characters we have in the game. They know that people's backgrounds and life stories are more important than just golf. So, but Jack, at Muirfield, he had a look in his eye and you know how he is, he sometimes is very dry. He said that if I got here, I would have a special week. So maybe it's just kind of a self fulfilling thing that I brought on myself. But I felt like I was going to have a great week this week.
Q. Your mom said she's been following you obviously playing golf for 25 years, but she couldn't help the last couple holes of reflecting on everything you've been through to get to this point. On a Saturday at a Major Championship, to be in the mix. What was that like sort of emotionally for you today to be there?
ERIK COMPTON: Yeah, I think that there's times where I get emotional, I look over and see the crowd and see my name on the leaderboard and know what I've been through. But sometimes, it can come at any golf tournament and I think everybody has that, but you got to get right back into the game mode and focus and try to hit the next shot. It's a lot of fun to be inside the ropes and to be close to the lead at a Major Championship. Even the preparation this week has probably been some of the most fun golf that I've had in my career. Now I understand why the big guys love the majors and consider the Majors really it. I'm just really enjoying it.
Q. Typically on a Sunday at a U.S. Open good course management would be to play to the middle of the greens, but here with perimeter hole locations, you can literally putt the ball off some of these greens. Can you describe what would be a good safe conservative approach to these greens on a Sunday?
ERIK COMPTON: I think I kind of understand where you're going, but I don't see any different approach any of the days. You have to hit the ball in the fairway, you have to hit it to the middle of the green, and there's some holes where you can be a little more aggressive. If you get it down there and you have a good number. But you see it's not always where you have good numbers. Sometimes you have to hit a half 8-iron and that's where guys have to be disciplined to be, to play away from the shot. I did that a couple times today, but I had some good numbers early in the round and I just swung and was real aggressive at the target. But I understand what people say you have to play smart in a Major, but it is execution. You can play as smart if you want but if you're hitting the ball off the hosel and missing your targets, it's a very difficult game. You could be -- when I was standing on number 5 I had an eagle putt and I looked all around the green and if I was five feet to the left of my ball, I was I would have been 40 yards out. But now I have an eagle putt. So that's how difficult the golf course is. There's margins of error that are very small.
Q. Was there a moment in your life, childhood or beyond, where you decided that consciously that you weren't going to be a victim of your circumstance or was it just a function of your makeup?
ERIK COMPTON: I think that's just the function of my makeup. I've been -- I told everybody I would be a Major League baseball player at age eight. And I was serious about it. Even when I got wheeled out of the operating room and they have it on camera, I said I would still be a professional baseball player. My parents have always done a really great job of pushing me to be a normal kid and a normal child. Sports was something that I lived for and something that they pushed me to do. They encouraged me to play baseball, football, baseball, basketball and they were good at telling me how good I was at it instead of beating me up. I made that a focus.
Q. I got two questions for you. One at a time. First one is, describe the level of frustration that you have that you haven't won a tournament on the PGA TOUR yet.
ERIK COMPTON: I'm not really frustrated at all, I feel like winning is sometimes you get chose to win. I haven't been chosen to have -- you got to have some good things happen to win on the TOUR. I played well enough, but there's time for that and I would say I'm not frustrated, I'm very happy with the progress that I've made and the patience that I've shown over this year and last year. I slowly have gotten a little bit better ever since I've gotten my card, so I just really look forward to the challenge of it.
Q. What was the shot today that made you the happiest?
ERIK COMPTON: I showed emotion when I made the putt on 11. Just because it was almost a two-shot swing. I could have easily 3-putted that hole. Everybody needs something like that to happen during a tournament and to get things going. I think that the 5-iron that I hit on 15 was as good of a shot as any shot I've hit all week. To be able to call the shot that I wanted to hit, I hit a high cut 5-iron in there and hit the number and it stopped right next to the hole. It's late in the day and to be able to hit those shots is a lot of fun.
Q. Do you keep in touch with the donor family and do you think they will be watching tomorrow?
ERIK COMPTON: Yeah, we keep in touch with them and I don't know if they will be watching, but they're a very great family and they're a tight group. They have a special place here with me and what more can I say? I mean, I feel blessed to be able to play here and without them, I wouldn't be here.
CHECK NAME: All right. Erik Compton, thank you very much. Good luck tomorrow.
ERIK COMPTON: Thanks.
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