Titleist Brand Ambassador Erik Compton opened the PGA Tour's inaugural Greenbrier Classic with a 7-under 63 Thursday at The Old White Course in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., responding to an aggravating start by making nine birdies over his final 15 holes.
Compton (equipment listed below) said after the round that he's trying to make "as many birdies as I can" this week so his caddie and friend, Victor Bilskoog, earns enough money to pay for PGA Tour Q-School this fall.
Yet anyone that knows Compton's story will be rooting first for the guy swinging the clubs.
"I know I'm a good player, and I have a lot of the adversity in front of me with the game and health," said Compton, 30, a survivor of two heart transplants. "But I always feel like if I stick in there and keep trying, something eventually good is going to happen."
Compton, playing this week on a sponsor's exemption, started his round Thursday with two bogeys in his first three holes, missing a 10-footer (due in part to a muddy ball) for par from the fringe on the par-4 second and three-putting the par-3 third from 43 feet.
"That's when I got off to a good start," Compton said. He belted his prototype Titleist 910D3 (8.5) driver down the par-4 fourth's fairway, then hit his Vokey Design Spin Milled 58-Degree wedge to 3 feet for birdie. He rolled in his Pro V1x from 30 feet for birdie on the par-4 fifth to get back to even par, then…
"Yeah, it was pretty much a blur after that," said Compton, who has made four cuts in six starts on the PGA Tour this year, including a tie for 30th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Compton made birdies at the par-4 seventh, four in a row from Nos. 9-12, and two more at Nos. 14 and 17, where he almost chipped in for eagle. His par on 18 was good enough for a share of the first-round lead, his best position ever after 18 holes.
"I was taking one shot at a time," he said. "I really don't know what holes I birdied, to be honest."
Erik Compton's bag:
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Titleist 910D3 8.5 prototype w/ Mitsubishi Kai'li 60
3-wood: Titleist 909F2 13.5 w/ Mitsubishi Kai'li 70
Hybrid: Titleist 909H 17.0 w/ UST Pro Force V2 86
Irons: Titleist CB (3-5), Titleist MB (5-PW) w/ Dynamic Gold
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design Spin
Milled (52, 58) w/ Dynamic Gold
Scotty Cameron 303-GSS
• • •
Across the pond at the Ricoh Women's British Open, Pro V1x loyalists Yani Tseng and Katherine Hull sit tied atop the leaderboard after Round 1 at Royal Birkdale.
Both Tseng (pictured, right) and Hull eagled the par-5 18th to open the final major championship of the year with 4-under 68s. Tseng, who hit all 18 greens in regulations, also birdied No. 17.
"I like this golf course," said Tseng, who is looking for her third major victory. "Actually this is my second time playing Links golf course, and I love links. I wish we could play more on this. … It makes me think more. So that makes me feel focused like on every shot, trying to focus on every shot, instead of looking forward and looking back."
Tseng only made one other birdie on the day, at the par-5 sixth, to go with 15 pars. Hull only made one mistake, a bogey at par-3 fourth, to go along with three birdies, 13 pars and that closing eagle.
"I've felt pretty good all year, but it's just been patchy, and I actually figured out something with my caddie maybe two days ago," Hull said.
And what was that?
"It's a state's secret," she said.
• • •
And on the other side of the country at the U.S. Senior Open, Pro V1x loyalist Bruce Vaughan took the first-round lead with a 4-under 66 at at Sahalee Country Club in Sammarish, Wash.
Vaughan, the 2008 Senior British Open champ, made three birdies and a bogey on each side, successfully navigating Sahalee's tight fairways.
"Sometimes you have to walk single file down the fairway," he said. "I was lucky, I
drove it good. That's the key, and at least then you can get to the
middle of the greens and stuff, and that's -- a lot of times that's all I
was aiming for was to hit the middle of the green."