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Humana Challenge: Double heart transplant recipient on leaderboard

January 19, 2012 | 12:25 pm

Erik Compton, the 32-year-old who has had two heart transplants, is playing his first full season on the PGA Tour. Compton, from Miami, finished tied for 67th at the Sony Open in Hawaii last week. The tournament had two cuts and Compton was in danger of missing both.

He finished with a birdie-eagle to make the first cut then made a 10-foot birdie putt on Saturday to make a final cut that allowed him to play the fourth round.

Compton is tied for ninth through 11 holes at the first round of the Humana Challenge Thursday. Compton is playing on the Nicklaus Private PGA West Course in La Quinta. Here is a Times story from last year on Compton and his relentless ability to fulfill his golf desires even in the face of difficult physical challenges.

Camilo Villegas, a 30-year-old from Colombia, so far holds a two-shot lead over the field with his seven-under through 12 holes. He's also playing the Nicklaus Private Course.

Two-time winner Phil Mickelson, making his first appearance here in five years, is tied for 25th and two-under through 11 holes at La Quinta Country Club.

-- Diane Pucin in La Quinta

Photo: Erik. Compton. Credit: Marco Garcia / Associated Press.