What an incredible story for Charlie Beljan last week at the Children Miracle Network Classic on the PGA Tour. A rookie on tour, the twenty eight year old came into the final tournament of 2012 with his job on the line.
Recently married in March 2012 and also became a father just seven weeks ago, Beljan arrived at the penultimate tournament (McGladrey Classic) of the 2012 PGA Tour season in 160th position on the money list.
As only those from position 126 and 150 on the PGA Tour money list go straight to final stage of tour school he was looking at booking his flight to the 2nd stage in Houston to try and win his card back for 2013.
It was at the McGladrey Classic that Beljan’s form which had not been good (missed 5 cuts of the previous six tournaments) was on the improve. He finished ten under and tied for 10th position picking up US $92,000.00.
This elevated him into the top 150 on the money list and guaranteed him a place into the final stage of tour school.
But let’s go back to 2002 when he won the US Junior at the Atlanta Athletic Club winning the title on the 20th hole. As
an amateur he won the Arizona State title three times and was named Arizona Player of the Year twice.
He attended the University of New Mexico and graduated with a degree in communication in 2007.
Beljan turned professional the same year and played the Gateway Mini Tour until 2011. He won eight times and the overall money title on two occasions.
During this period he qualified to play in two US Opens, the first at Bethpage Black in 2009 where he met his favourite athlete (Tiger Woods) in the players’ lounge and the previous year at Torrey Pines where Tiger won. He missed the cut in both events.
At the end of 2011 he entered to play the PGA Tour’s tour school and was one of only nine players who earned their 2012 card playing all three stages.
With scores of 70, 73, 66, 73, 68 he placed Tied 13th in the final stage and gained playing privileges on the “Big Show”.
He arrived at the Children's Miracle Network Hospital Classic which is the final tournament of the 2012 schedule and needed to finish in 1st or 2nd position to get into the top 125 ranking and keep his PGA Tour card
The tournament course is the Magnolia Golf Club in Lake Buena Vista Florida where Disney World is situated. To get to the golf club players drive under Disney’s sign that reads “Welcome to Disney World where dreams come true.”
Beljan’s opening round is a bogey free 4 under 68 and trails leader Charlie Wie by four shots. The second round is where
things started to happen! He eagles the first hole and by the 9th hole is 5 under for the round and leading the tournament at 9 under.
It was at this point when the TV camera’s picked him up and the commentators where voicing their concern regarding Beljan’s situation.
He was being attended by medical staff as he sat on the grass by the side of thefairway. They reported he had trouble breathing, his heart rate was elevated to a dangerous level and his blood pressure was extremely high!
Amazingly through all this he was 9 under for the round through 14 holes and a late bogey on the 17th added up to a 64 and the lead after the completion of the 2nd round. Beljan was taken to hospital immediately. After extensive test doctors could not find anything that was causing his condition out on the course and diagnosed it as a panic attack.
Beljan described the day as “not enjoyable” and “certain I was
going to die.” On Saturday and Sunday the symptoms returned but somehow he prevailed winning by two shots for his maiden win and securing his future on the PGA Tour for the next two years.
With his win he is ranked in 63rd position on the money list with US$1,373,528.00 and that gets him into every tournament (except the US open, British Open, PGA) next year including the Masters and the Players Championship.
At the interview he was asked what was the one thing that got him over the line for the win. His answer was “I have always believed in myself, I’m a fighter and never give up”.
He added “I don’t think of swing on course, I just hit shots.”
He is 2nd in driving distance averaging 311.6 yards behind Bubba Watson and has a scoring average of 70.98.
Well last week at Disney World Charlie Beljan’s dream did come true!
We wish him all the very best in his future career and will follow it with interest.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
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