LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It was a crazy day Friday at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. Not only do seven guys find themselves in a tie for second place at 9 under, but the leader, Charlie Beljan, fought frightening symptoms like shortness of breath to card an 8-under 64 on the Palm Course and take a three-shot lead at 12 under.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from the second day at Disney:
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BELJAN’S SCARE: Charlie Beljan’s 8-under 64 Friday on the Palm Course would have been the highlight of the day at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
But there were bigger concerns for Beljan. The PGA Tour rookie had shortness of breath, numbness and an elevated heart rate. He was taken to a nearby hospital after his round. Beljan was diagnosed with Valley Fever in recent years, according to people close to him.
“It got kind of scary,” said Beljan’s caddie, Rick Adcox. “He kept saying he thought he was going to die. He had that feeling. I don’t know how he hit the golf ball feeling the way he was feeling.”
Beljan asked for medical assistance on the practice tee and by the time he made the turn, he had requested it again. Medical personnel followed him for the rest of the round and by hole No. 16, Beljan was in obvious discomfort. He dropped to one knee and then sat down following a bogey at No. 17. He then had to sit down countless times on No. 18. He walked off the 18th green and said to a nearby bike cop, “I’m going to need you guys.” He sat in the scoring area for several minutes before being taken away in a stretcher.
“Before the round he said he was having a hard time breathing,” said Edward Loar, Beljan’s playing competitor. “It was pretty bizarre.”
A big question is not only the state of Beljan’s health, but whether he’ll be able to continue playing this weekend.
“To me that doesn’t matter,” Adcox said. “This is a golf tournament.”
Beljan is No. 139 on the PGA Tour money list. He finished third at the Greenbrier Classic.
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A LITTLE EXTRA ENGLISH: Harris English entered his rookie season with a few goals. He wanted to keep his PGA Tour card and get a victory. While he’s already locked up the first goal – he entered this week No. 84 on the money list – he’s still searching for that first win.
“I’d like to come out here and get a ‘W’ this week,” said English, who shot a second-round, 5-under 67 and is tied for second with six other guys at 9 under. “That was kind of the plan all along in the Fall Series is try to win a tournament.”
English didn’t deliver in two previous fall events this season, finishing 60th at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and T-15 at the McGladrey Classic. But for a guy who notched three top 10s and qualified for two playoff events, closing the season with a win at Disney is not outside the realm of possibility.
“This year has been all about experience and just getting comfortable out here and learning what to do and what not to do,” English said. “It’s been a good year.”
And it will be an even better one if English can finish 2012 with a win.
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LIVE BY THE PUTTER, DIE BY THE PUTTER: Another PGA Tour rookie, Mark Anderson, finds himself part of the seven-way logjam for second place. And it’s in the same week the former South Carolina player made a switch back to a belly putter.
Anderson began the season with the belly putter and made eight of nine cuts from January to April. He then made a switch to a short putter during the summer because it “felt really great and I made a lot of putts with it.”
But after making just four cuts since the Zurich Classic in April, Anderson put the short putter back in his bag before Disney and so far it’s paid off. Anderson shot 5-under 67 Friday on the Magnolia course and sits at 9 under heading into the weekend. He had worked his way up to 11 under, but two bogeys in his last three holes dropped him back into a share of the lead.
“The last month or two I’ve hit the ball very well, but I just haven’t made the putts,” Anderson said. “So it was kind of a last-minute, do-or-die deal. I was going to kind of live and die by going back to it.”
Anderson has had some good memories with the long putter. It helped him secure his PGA Tour card at the end of last season on the Web.com Tour. And it could help him hold onto his card this week. At No. 170 on the money list, Anderson needs a finish of third or better to keep his card.
“[The belly putter], it’s served me well,” Anderson said, “but it just kind of went away and now I’m back with it.”
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YES WI CAN? Charlie Wi is 0-for-7 when it comes to turning 18-hole leads into wins.
That includes two misses so far in 2012. He held at least a share of the first-round lead at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he finished second and T-29, respectively. Wi also had at least a share of the 36-hole lead at those two tournaments, but fell two shots short at Pebble Beach and shot 10 over during the weekend at Bay Hill to drop out of contention.
He’ll get another shot at converting an 18-hole lead into a win this weekend.
Wi, still searching for his first PGA Tour victory, opened the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic with a Thursday-best, 8-under 64 before carding a 1-under 71 on Friday. He made five birdies and four bogeys as part of an up-and-down day on the Magnolia course, which will play host to the final two rounds.
“I thought 1 under par, that’s a pretty good score,” said Wi, who is in a seven-way tie for second place. “I shouldn’t be upset about some things. I did make some mistakes, but that’s part of golf and I feel like I’m in position for the weekend.”
Wi is yet again in contention, although it remains to be seen if he can keep history from repeating itself again. If he does, it not only means a first-career win but a spot in the Masters for a guy who entered this week No. 45 on the money list.
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CONFIDENCE BOOSTER: Unlike many players at Walt Disney World, Charles Howell III doesn’t need a good finish to ensure he’ll keep his card. He’s here to end his year on a high note.
Howell began the season with a T-2 showing at the Sony Open, but over the course of the next eight months, he only finished inside the top 20 three times.
“I finished second out of the gate and I played like a dog the rest of the year pretty much,” Howell said.
But things have turned around in the Fall Series – a T-11 at the Frys.com Open and a T-7 at the McGladrey Classic – and one more strong showing, and perhaps even a win, will give Howell a nice boost going into next season. He’s one of seven guys in a tie for second at 9 under.
“I sort of went into these events to get something going and get some confidence, and I’ve played well the last couple of them,” Howell said. “I’ve played a little bit better than I thought I would the last few weeks, but I’m getting some confidence back, which is good.”
Although a win won’t get Howell into the top 30 on the money list and in turn a berth in the Masters, it’s evident a victory at Disney will be a nice end to the year for Howell.