By Brian Schmitz Orlando Sentinel
8:39 p.m. EDT, March 23, 2014
At one point on Sunday, Erik Compton was at 10-under and four shots behind Matt Every at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
He said he wasn’t watching the scoreboard or much of anything else. Well, except when he caught a glimpse of the tournament host.
“The only time I looked was … well, Arnold Palmer was on 16, and he gave me a thumb’s-up,” Compton said. “It’s kind of hard to hit a shot when you’re in contention and he’s looking at you.”
He bogeyed the final hole Sunday, kicking himself. He’ll think twice before he switches golf balls again.
“It’s funny. I switched balls on the last hole,” he said. “I played 17 holes with one ball and then switched and made a bogey.
“Eighteen is such a tough hole. I played aggressive to that pin. I hit a good shot and just had the wrong club. The putter is coming around. The game is sharpening up a little bit.”
Compton, 34, doesn’t get too tough on himself. It’s a miracle he’s alive, much less playing golf.
He has undergone two heart transplants, the first when he was 12 and the second in 2008. Compton was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy at age 9, a condition where the heart muscle is inflamed and unable to pump efficiently.
Off to the Keys
Lake Nona’s Henrik Stenson planned to fly to the Florida Keys after tying Compton for fifth place at 9-under, looking to relax before preparing to practice at Augusta for the Masters.
“I’m flying to the Keys in an hour, so I’m going to spend a couple nights down there with the family. And then I’m practicing for the back end of this week, and then a quick scouting mission to Augusta and playing Houston and back to the Masters.
“Busy couple of weeks coming up.”
Stenson was mostly pleased with his ball-striking, even though he never quite got into contention.
“Striking was good over the weekend and putting settled a little bit,” he said. “And Friday was not a good start on the greens. Three-putt three times within a five-hole stretch. That kind of threw me off. I threw that round away.”
Adam Scott, who led for three rounds only to finish third, has made a Tour-leading 31 consecutive cuts. …
Ian Poulter, who started the final round at 7-under and tied for 12th, ran into trouble on the 11th. He was hitting shots out of the water near a bank, one shoe on and one shoe off. He took a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 438-yard par-4 hole. He shot 76 and finished tied for 20th. …
Hunter Mahan withdrew Sunday after the second hole because of back pain. Mahan said his back started to bother him at Doral two weeks ago and then he felt discomfort while warming up on the practice range Sunday before the API. …
Sam Saunders, Palmer’s grandson, struggled mightily after starting the day tied for 15th. Saunders slumped to a 40 on the front nine, recording two bogeys and a double-bogey. He shot 77 on the final day to finish tied for 43rd.