Beljan avoids nightmare, lives the dream at Disney

November 11, 2012
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Two days earlier, Charlie Beljan thought he was going to die. Sunday, he was living a dream.

Beljan survived a panic attack and a shaky start to win the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic by two for his first career victory on the PGA TOUR.


The 28-year-old rookie arrived at the season-ending event faced with the possibility of having to go to q-school to try to get his card for next season. He left with a two-year exemption and a ticket to the winners-only Hyundai Tournament of Champions and the PGA Championship following a 3-under 69 in the final round.

"You never know what's going to happen in this game or in the game of life," Beljan said. "You keep plugging away."

After the first 36 holes, Beljan didn't even think he'd be able to keep playing when he was rushed to the hospital for shortness of breath, an increased heart rate and high blood pressure.

He spent the night being examined by doctors and when the tests turned up nothing, he was released from the hospital and kept going.

Beljan wasn't sure how he would feel when he turned up at the golf course for the third round, and he admitted to feeling the onset of another panic attack midway through his round.

But he talked his way through it and stayed in the lead.

Beljan didn't feel good Sunday morning, either. He woke up with a headache and moped around his hotel room.

One shot at a time had a whole new meaning for Beljan this week, who admitted to suffering a handful of panic attacks in recent months. He'd certainly gone through a lot this year.

Beljan got married in March, had a career-best tie 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 seven weeks ago and came into this week with his job on the line.

Then came Friday's panic attack.

"I believe that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes days like Friday weren't very enjoyable, but the score was wonderful, and I think it taught me that it doesn't matter about your golf swing or your putting stroke," Beljan said. "I was literally fighting for my life and I just think that you can't ever give up."

Proof of that came quickly on Sunday.

Here are the last five in and last five to be left out of the top 125 on the money list along with how close they finished to the 125th position.
121. Harrison Frazar + $82,693
122. James Driscoll + $39,828
123. Jeff Maggert + $35,232
124. Tim Herron + $12,769
125. Kevin Chappell $647,510
126. Jerry Kelly - $1,809
127. Rod Pampling - $26,617
128. Billy Mayfair - $27,549
129. Trevor Immelman - $30,214
130. Gary Christian - $31,053
Click here to view the full money list.

Despite a bogey on the opening hole for a second straight day, Beljan bounced back with seven birdies over his next 11 holes.

His lead ballooned to five before being cut to two following a double bogey on the par-4 13th, one of the easiest holes on the golf course.

Beljan bounced back, though, rolling in a birdie from 13 feet on the next hole. His only other hiccup came on the 18th, where he found a greenside bunker and left himself 25 feet on his next shot.

By then, however, he could three-putt and win.

Beljan only needed two putts, tossing his putter in the air before hoisting his young son and hugging his wife, who had flown in the night before.

"I felt great on the golf course, other than my heart was coming out of my chest," Beljan said of the final round. "I was just trying to get through it."

So were a few others.

Tim Herron began the day in a tie for 16th and on the outside looking in for the top 125 on the money list. Then he made seven birdies over his first 14 holes to have a chance to win the tournament.

A double bogey after hitting it in the water on the 17th ended those dreams, but Herron still finished with a TOUR card.

So did Kevin Chappell, who finished $1,809 ahead of Jerry Kelly to nab the 125th spot.

As for Beljan, he was glad his week at a place dubbed the happiest on earth didn't turn into a nightmare.

"I was just happy that the day was over," Beljan said. "I was happy that I was a PGA TOUR champion. I was happy that my wife and my baby were here. It still isn't real."

Even by Disney standards, it doesn't seem believable.