Pinehurst: Erik Compton never gave up, not after his first heart transplant at age 12, nor his second 16 years later, the one that nearly ended his golf career.
And on Sunday, he sent a message to the world by finishing second at the US Open and potentially taking his game to another level at age 34.
"If I never played golf again for the rest of my life, I think that I've made my mark in this game," Compton said.
Erik Compton of the United States hits an approach shot on the 11th hole during the final round of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club.
Compton fired a final-round two-over par 72 at Pinehurst to share second place with US countryman and pal Rickie Fowler on one-under 279, eight strokes behind winner Martin Kaymer of Germany.
The donor heart beating in his chest since his latest transplant in 2008 belonged to a volleyball player from Columbus, Ohio.
But Compton also had the spirit to fight back when his strength had faded and surviving, much less achieving his sporting dreams, was very much in doubt.
"I've been on my back twice and I never thought I would ever leave the house," Compton said. "Now I just finished second at the US Open.
"I don't think anybody would have ever thought I would do that, not even myself. So you can't ever write yourself off. You just can't give up.
"You can't ever give up."
Compton's effort qualifies him for other majors, including a dream start in next year's Masters.
"It's huge," he said. "I go from where I was a few years ago and now I'm able to play in major championships.
"And I think I showed the world that I'm capable of playing good golf under extreme pressure and heat.
"And I think I showed myself."
Compton has never won a PGA title, his lone triumph a 2011 Mexico Open victory on a developmental tour. His US Open result was his best in a PGA event.
"When I go back and assess what I did this week, I think there's still some room for improvement and maybe I scared myself into thinking that I can actually play this game," Compton said.
He salvaged par with a long putt at the 18th to hold onto a share of second.
- Thrilled to be here -
"We all have adversity in our lives," Compton said. "Some are different than others. Some are more major. The up-and-down I made on 18 is an example of never giving up. I hit the world's worst shot into the green and then got up-and-down.
"So when you have disabilities or you have health issues, some days are really bad and then you've got to try to make the best of it the next day and wake up and move your body. And I'm a perfect example of that."
Compton admitted that the greatest week of his 14-year pro golf career was still a bit of a blur.
"I won't really know the significance of what I've accomplished until I sit back and maybe watch the tapes and enjoy it," Compton said.
"I'm just so thrilled to be here and playing at this level and I finally had that feeling of putting myself on the map. Now I've just got to keep going out and trying my best.
"But I don't have anything to really prove to anybody anymore."