Blessing in disguise gives Beljan the victory
Photos: Children's Miracle Network Classic (Final)
View images from the final round of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, played Nov. 11 at Disney's Magnolia Course in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Charlie Beljan woke up on Sunday morning, he felt horrible again.
A consistent, pounding headache and stomachache greeted the 54-hole leader of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
He says it was ‘a blessing in disguise.’
After struggling in the second round with a panic attack that sent him to the hospital immediately following the round, Beljan knew he could overcome the new bout of sickness.
And he did by firing a final-round, 3-under 69 to win his first PGA Tour event on Sunday at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic on the Magnolia Course at Disney World by two shots.
“It was incredible,” said Beljan.
The 6-foot-4 28-year-old, who is in his first full season on Tour, had his ‘dream come true’ when his family gingerly walked out onto the 18th green. He was one of four rookies to win on Tour this year.
“I can’t wait to watch it on TV like all of the other couples and champions that I’ve watched have their families come out,” said Beljan of his family coming on the green after his victory.
Beljan didn’t even think he could continue on Saturday after spending Friday night in the hospital, and only getting about 90 minutes of sleep. He didn’t know where he stood until about 10 p.m. that evening, and found out he had a three-shot lead.
On Saturday morning, he was released from the hospital, took a quick trip to the hotel to clean up and was on his way to the course to compete in the third round.
“That was probably the hardest day of my life,” said Beljan after the third round. “I’ve never been that scared.”
He finished the day with a 1-under 71 and a two-shot lead heading into the final day.
He called it “a great day of golf.”
His wife, 7-week-old baby, his and her mothers were on a plane immediately knowing he would be a leader.
Yet, he still woke up sick on Sunday.
“Here I am with the lead on the PGA Tour and I can’t even wake up and lay in bed and feel well,” he said.
But once he was on the course, he felt great, other than the fact his heart was coming out of his chest.
“For a great reason,” said Beljan. “Friday it was coming out of my chest for a bad reason.”
For the second day in a row, he started off rocky with a bogey at No. 1, but bounced right back with a birdie.
He would make his Sunday move with birdies on five of six holes from Nos. 7 thru 12 to take a five-stroke lead. Then the dreadful par-4 13th happened. He double bogeyed and had opened the door for Robert Garrigus, who was only two shots back.
“And then (I) threw a double bogey in there on the easiest hole on the golf course, but my thinking was I knew I had a five-shot lead,” said Beljan. “I made double and I actually wasn’t even upset about it at all because I had a three-shot lead with four or five to play on a Sunday on the PGA Tour and that was all I thought about.”
Instead, Beljan relaxed and came back on No. 14 and made a birdie. A lot of depth breaths were taken on the last few holes. And then a bit of emotion after draining a 5-footer on No. 17, showing off a big fist pump as he went to pick up the ball.
A two-putt bogey on the last sealed the deal for victory, and a few more fist pumps occurred as well as the throwing of the putter.
“I don’t remember throwing my putter on the 18th after I tapped in,” he said.
With the victory, he finished No. 63 on the money list after a starting the week at No. 139.
Next year, he starts his season at Kapalua. And he's pretty excited about that.
“Just because it’s only the champions, and that’s something everybody wants to be apart of.”
Marrying the love of his life, having their first child and getting his first Tour win.
Dreams do come true.