Wi knows all about final-round pressure
Photos: Children's Miracle Network Classic (Rd. 3)
View images from the third round of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, played Nov. 10 at Disney's Magnolia and Palm courses in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The other Charlie playing well here at Disney knows all about having an accelerated heartbeat. Charlie Beljan’s panic attack Friday at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic was the result of an unfortunate spiral of events that he said had nothing to do with his position on the leaderboard. Fearing for life, Beljan spent the night in a hospital and came back out Saturday and willed his way around the golf course.
Charlie Wi, a five-time runner-up on the PGA Tour, can’t relate to Beljan’s medical condition, but he knows what it feels like to be in a Sunday pressure cooker.
“I know that being in the lead can raise your heartbeat quite a bit,” said Wi, who is tied for second with Brian Gay and Josh Teater heading into the final round. Beljan, meanwhile, surprised even himself with the way he kept his game and his body in check en route to a 1-under 71 on the Magnolia Course and a two-stroke lead.
Charlie Wi shared the lead with Beljan throughout most of the back nine on Saturday before faltering on the closing holes. Wi, 40, missed a par putt from inside 2 feet on the 17th hole and then made a 4 1/2-footer for bogey on the last. The slip dropped him out of the last group, which might not be a bad thing for Wi.
Earlier this year at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Wi at least shared the lead the first three rounds thanks in part to a record-setting 28 on the front nine of Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Wi said after today’s round that he didn’t even recall that incredible stretch, which sounds improbable but if true, would bode well if that means he also forgot the double bogey he made on the first hole on Sunday at Pebble, when he held a three-stroke lead.
“I feel like dwelling on things that have happened in the past or the future … really hurts my game,” Wi said.
A student of the stack-and-tilt swing philosophy, Wi relies on meditation while on the course. The practice goes unnoticed as Wi simply closes his eyes behind his sunglasses, takes a deep breath, and pictures what he wants to accomplish.
Most of the attention on Sunday will belong to Beljan, a man who on Friday thought he might die on the golf course. When doctors released him the next morning, he was given a clean bill of health. Beljan quickly realized that in order to remain on his feet, he must control his mind. It’s the same for everyone fighting for position this week, though on a much smaller scale.
If there’s one thing Wi has learned through his many close calls, it’s that Sunday does not require perfection. That’s probably why he was able to face reporters after his bogey-bogey finish with such a calm, easygoing attitude.
“People that haven’t been there a lot feel like they have to play perfect golf to win,” Wi said, “but I know that I don’t.”