Beljan looking to put a bow on a wild week at Disney

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November 10, 2012
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Charlie Beljan is a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie.

He rides fast motorcycles. His bucket list includes wanting to be strapped to the wing of a biplane. He says if there were a TV show made about him, producers would have to create a death-wish channel for him.

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So there's something odd about a guy who has a need for speed being hospitalized for what was believed to be a panic attack. A day later, however, Beljan was back on the golf course, even though his doctors suggested he maybe not play.

Beljan played anyway, shooting a 71 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, where he's in position for his first win.

"I don't know how I am where I am right now," Beljan said a day after suffering from shortness of breath, an increased heart rate, high blood pressure and numbness in his arms. "I think the big advantage for me is I'm not thinking about the golf or the putts or the chips or the shots or the swing.

"I'm just thinking about my health, one shot at time, one hole at a time. The last 36 holes it's worked out pretty well."

For a while, it looked like Beljan might not make it to the last 36 holes here.

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He spent the night in nearby Celebration Hospital, where he underwent a number of tests but doctors were unable to come up with a diagnosis -- even though he's suffered "six or seven" similar episodes in recent weeks.

After a restless night that included only a few hours of sleep, much of which was spent with his golf shoes still on, Beljan was released in the morning and arrived at the golf course about an hour before his tee time.

"I would probably say 99.9 percent that I was not going to show up (Saturday)," Beljan said. "I showed up this morning and I was scared, I was nervous, and kind of embarrassed about the whole show that happened. I didn't know how I was going to take today, if those feelings were going to come back."

Physically, he felt fine. Beljan's golf was another story, at least early on, as he bogeyed two of his first three holes to fall out of the lead.

He bounced back, though, with four birdies over his next eight holes.

But on the eighth hole, Beljan said he started to feel symptoms of another attack coming on.

"Mentally I just had to kind of get back to telling myself I was OK and believing that instead of letting things spiral," he said. "I feel fortunate to be sitting here. I thought for sure I would be back in Arizona by now."

Just two months ago, Beljan suffered a similar but unrelated incident when he passed out on a flight back from the Reno-Tahoe Open. He fell into a flight attendant and crashed into the cockpit door.

"The last thing I remember was opening the door and everything went black," he said.

By the time Beljan came to, the plane was being diverted to Los Angeles for an emergency landing. He was checked out by doctors but they found nothing.

"Now every time I get on the plane -- I used to love to sit in the window and curl up and go right to sleep," Beljan said. "Now I got to sit in the back on the aisle by the bathroom.

"Physically, everything is wonderful. It's that little space between those ears that I got to work on. I got to go get some help, that's what I got to do."

The race for PGA TOUR cards concludes this week. See who's moving into, and dropping out of, the top 125. Projections

Earlier this summer, he did just that, spending a few days with sport psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella. Two weeks later, Beljan shot his best score of the season, a 62 at The Greenbrier Classic.

Beljan says more sessions with Rotella are in his future, as is a full "head-to-toe" exam at the Mayo Clinic back in Phoenix. But for now the 28-year-old rookie is focused on trying to get his first win.

"My wife and I have always talked about how cool it is to see the family and the kids run out on the green on the 18th hole after somebody wins," said Beljan, whose wife and family were flying in Saturday night to be here for the final round. "That would be the ultimate feeling, the ultimate rush."

First he'll have to hold off a crowded leaderboard. Ten players are within three shots of Beljan, including Brian Gay, Josh Teater and Charlie Wi, all of whom are two shots back at 11 under. Teater and Wi are also looking for their first win.

So is Vaughn Taylor, who is another stroke back and looking to secure a TOUR card by finishing in the top 125 on the money list. Camilo Villegas and Tommy Gainey are also 10 under. Villegas is looking for his first win in two years, while Gainey is looking for his second win in as many starts.

Others, such as Kevin Chappell and D.J. Trahan, are just hoping to play well enough to finish in the top 125 on the money list in the final round of the season.

As for Beljan, a victory would be a big bow on what's been a busy year and stressful week.

He got married in March, tied for third at The Greenbrier Classic before missing five of his next six cuts, saw his wife give birth to the couple's first child just seven weeks ago and came into this week 139th on the money list with his status for next year still to be determined.

"It's been a long, exciting, hectic, crazy, stressful year," Beljan said. "But hopefully we're going to end it with a bang."

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