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Hi Erik, How are you doing today?


I see that you have a partnership with Donate Life America and Genentech for the "Play through with Erik Compton" campaign, as well as working with Donate Life Texas and LifeGift, how has that been going?

“It's going great! I was happy to participate in the Shell Houston Open Junior Golf Skills Challenge yesterday and Head to Houston Methodist Hospital for the bell ringing ceremony, Texas Children's Hospital and also very excited to head to Nora's Home, a facility offering support while also serving as a home away from home for transplant patients and their families. ”

Seems like you are pretty busy so I will try not to keep you long, but we really appreciate you taking a moment to speak with us and help spread the word.  The numbers are staggering, 122,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for an organ transplant and 13,000 in Texas.  About 22 people die each day waiting.  When I saw that one organ donor can save up to 8 lives, I double checked to make sure that I was a donor as well.  Where is the biggest need and how can we all help?

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Hey Hal, how are you doing today?

“I'm good, I'm good.

We appreciate you coming back and speaking with us a year later, how are you feeling?

“Everything is great, my hips are great and life is good.  You get more used to it after time.  There is a thing called proprioception that is a little thing that is tough to get used to when you do things at a high level, like play golf at a high level.  Living pain free is much more important.”

I'm sure that many people in the golf community could really benefit from using Stryker for their hips.  How's your game now?

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a1sx2_Thumbnail1_704x422.pngWith the Insperity Invitational this weekend Kyle Burns, with Golf Houston, was given the opportunity to talk with Hal Sutton and talk a little about his career and the upcoming tournament. 


I just wanted to say first and for most, happy belated birthday, saw it was your birthday yesterday, is that correct?

“Yea it was”

Didn’t know if you did anything around Houston for it?

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With the Insperity Championship ramping up in The Woodlands, Texas at the WCC Tournament Course this weekend, Golf Houston was lucky enough to catch up with last year's champion Fred Funk before he kicks off his first round tomorrow.

GH:  What First got you into golf, and at what point did you realize that you were skilled enough to go pro?
FF:  My dad got me playing when I was 10 years old, I also played basketball, football, and boxed.  I got a job at The University of Maryland as a golf coach right after I finished up college there.  I always seemed to make the cut, or be close to making the cuts, for U.S. Amateurs and U.S. Opens and realized that I was close. However, I got my PGA Tour Card in 89', and then had to go back to Q School after that year.  I retained my card and was lucky enough to have a long career thereafter.  

GH:  How nervous were you for your first event on the PGA Tour and is it any different now vs. then? 
FF:  I was a bit nervous and still can be to this day, nerves are normal and a good thing.  I try to focus on the fundamentals of my practice and trust them in tournament rounds.  Try and see the positive and not the negative.  I think everyone is choking a bit, just at different levels and all tournaments are different in regards to how your nerves come on and affect you. 
GH:  Do you work on the mental game in-depth for that?
FF:  I do work with a coach out of Dallas by the name of Lanny Bassham.  He was a gold medal shooter in the Olympics and now works on the mental game to program the mind and reinforce the positive.... it isn't always that easy.
GH:  What is it about Houston that brings the best out of your game?  You've won the Shell Houston Open in 1992 and now the Insperity Championship in 2012?
FF:  Houston is like home to me.  I have family around here that I stay with, I met my wife here.  I qualified for the PGA Tour here, won my first Tournament here, have a course record here.  I like being back around the Woodlands as much as I can, it has a lot of great memories and means a lot to me.
GH:  When you're in town, where do you like to revisit? 
FF:  I really like Pappasito's.  I have already been there once this week.
GH:  You had 4 birdies in the final 5 holes of last years tournament at the Woodlands CC, to win the Insperity Championship, how did you come through with that many birdies in the clutch?
FF:  I just try to trust my fundamentals and got a pretty lucky bounce on 14.  The next three holes, I hit quality shots but the one on 18 was one of the best of my life.  I got a little opening from Tom (Lehman) and was going straight for the pin with a 5 iron.  I wasn't nervous, but excited to hit the shot.  It's nice to have that opportunity to hit the shot to be the hero or the goat. That is the kind of shot I look forward to and we want to put ourselves in the position to hit.  I was fortunate enough to hit probably the best shot of my life under the circumstances to about 18 inches.
GH:  Over many years, you're highly regarded as the straightest driver on all tours.  What is it that you do to work on being that good with that club?
FF:  I work on taking the club back on about the same path that I want it coming down on.  I try to keep the club head straight down the line at impact, as long as I can.  I am one of the shortest hitters, so I have to hit it pretty straight to be very competitive.  I also like to play by myself, go out and hit 6 or 7 tee shots on a hole and play them.  I like playing more then just range time.
GH:  You have been so consistent for so long, when you do practice, what percentage of the time is spent on what aspect of the game to give you that kind of longevity?
FF:  I like to focus on the fundamentals of the swing and impact, to make sure my divots are uniform and that I am striking the ball cleanly, not chunking it. I spend some time on short game but should probably spend more time on it.  Even when I was on the PGA Tour I feel like I was saying that same thing, and that I need more time there.  You have to have a great short game out here.  The mental game is probably the most important...everyone hits it, chips and putts well, but the edge is in the mental game.  Guys like Tiger and Jim Furyk are some of the toughest that I've seen and it pays off.
GH:  Who mentored you when you were a rookie? 
FF:  I played a lot of golf with the guys that I graduated Q School with and others that I became good friends with, like Chris Dimarco.  I would go out of my way to try to find other older guys to play with and now I am trying to play golf with the younger guys as well.
GH:  Is there a swing coach that you are working with?  
FF:  I live over in Ponte Vedra and work with Travis Holton a bit but I can't really work on the game as much as I did a few years ago, I am currently battling through a sore lower back.
GH:  How is your knee feeling after the surgery a few years back?
FF:   It's feeling a lot better.  Stryker Medical has really helped me with my knee to be successful in playing again.  I was lucky enough to get a sponsorship opportunity out of it too.  In conjunction,  I am also working with The Fisher House Foundation which is a non profit to help support military veterans and their families.  They are the real heroes out there.
GH:  Have you seen security on tour increase at all since the attacks in Boston or 9/11?  
FF:  That was a terrible tragedy and my thoughts and prayers go out to those families. I have noticed a lot more at the airport and more bomb sniffing dogs at events.  People are a bit more cautious of back packs laying around now.
GH:  Do you have any of your kids playing golf now?  
FF:  My son plays, he is a quite an accomplished junior player with a pretty good swing.  He works with Travis a bit and probably will play at The University of Texas.
GH:  What advice would you give to the Golf Houston Club amateurs that are either just starting or are fairly accomplished but looking to improve?  
FF:  Work hard on the fundamentals.  I built my game from the ground up with not a lot of lessons.  Keep working and improving at whatever level you are at... you can always improve, that is what is great about this game!
GH:  I've seen the new Mitsubishi commercials that you are in and they really had me laughing, any chance of taking a spot in the booth in the near future?
FF:  Not any time soon, I have a renewed enthusiasm for competitive golf and working at it.  I plan on playing late into my 60's or as long as I still can be competitive.
GH:  Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, while sharing your knowledge and experiences for the Golf Houston Members and Community.  Good luck with defending the Inspirity Championship this weekend, play well!
FF:  I appreciate it and thanks for having me!
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