Rewind: Erik Compton captures nation’s heart, track teams fly high, Matthews bolts


ATHENS — Most Georgia fans already knew Erik Compton’s story. Now everybody in the golf world knows it.

The 2001 UGA graduate finished second in the U.S. Open on Sunday. That he did it on his third heart turned him into a national hero.

“I’ve never gotten this far along in my story,” Compton told reports after his final-round 72 on Pinehurst No. 2 enable him to finish at 1-under-par for the tournament. “It’s a career-opening thing for me. For me to put myself on the map and prove to the world that I’m not just the guy with two heart transplants.”

Coming in, Compton had not finished higher than fifth in 99 previous PGA Tour events. Going out, he earned $790,000 — three times as much as he won in five years combined on the PGA and tour before a 2007 heart attack – and now holds an invitation from Augusta National Golf Club to play in the 2015 Masters.

“I’ve been on my back twice, and I never thought I would ever leave the house,” Compton said. “Now I just finished second in the U.S. Open. I don’t think anybody would have ever thought I would do that, not even myself. You can’t ever write yourself off.”

Compton was one of eight Bulldogs – nine if you count the semester Patrick Reed attended UGA on a golf scholarship – in this year’s U.S. Open field. Led by Compton, five of them made the cut, including Brendon Todd (T17), who was in second after 36 holes, Chris Kirk (T28), Reed (T35), Harris English (T48) and Russell Henley (T60). Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson missed the cut, as did Kevin Kisner and Hudson Swafford.

Record showing by track teams

Georgia sophomore Leontia Kallenou won the school’s first national outdoor high jump title at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday. That made Kallenou the third Bulldog to claim an individual championship at nationals this year.

Sophomore Maicel Uibo took first place in the decathlon, while freshman Kendell Williams won the heptathlon. Not surprisingly, that meant for the Georgia’s best combined finish in history at the outdoor championships.

The Lady Bulldogs scored 35 point to finish fifth behind Texas A&M (75), Texas (66), Oregon (59) and Florida (55). It was the best finish for the UGA women since 1999 and their third best in history.

The Bulldog men finished sixth with 24 points as Oregon (88), Florida (70), Texas A&M (41.50), LSU (29) and USC (29) rounded out the top five. This marks the best national finish indoors or outdoors for Georgia and their sixth top-10 outdoor finish (first since 1995).

The only other time both Georgia teams finished in the top 10 outdoors in the same year was 1995. The Lady Bulldogs were third that year with 41.3 points and the men tied for 10th with 25 points.

Kallenou, a native of Nicosia, Cyprus, did not miss a single height until after she had locked down her second career national championship and starting making tries at 6-4. Kallenou cleared her first four bars on her first try, including the winning mark of 6-2.25. She had national-leading mark of 6-3.50 heading into the meet.

On Friday, Williams scored 5,854 points to edge San Diego State senior Allison Reaser (5,836) for the heptathlon title. Williams becomes the first freshman to win an NCAA title in the event since 2004 and only the third in history.

The Georgia women have two national championships in the same outdoor season for the first time since 1998 and only the third time in history (1998, 1987, all in the sprints).

On Thursday, sophomore Maicel Uibo scored 8,182 points to win the NCAA decathlon title, giving the Bulldogs’ their first national crown in the event and first outdoor championship since 2009.

Matthews declares ‘War Eagle’

Of course, the biggest news in the minds of most Georgia fans was the decision of Tray Matthews to transfer to Auburn. The former starting safety for the Bulldogs, was kicked off the team this past season for persistent behavior problems, made the announcement via Twitter on Saturday.

Matthews’ remarks that we was “blessed” to now be an Auburn Tiger did not sit well with a lot of Georgia fans, considering he was kicked off the team due to bad behavior. Among them was Kevin Bailey – the father of starting defensive lineman Sterling Baileywho vented his displeasure on Sunday.

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