LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Despite an emergency visit to the hospital on Friday evening and doctors telling him to withdraw from the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, Charlie Beljan fired 3-under 69 Sunday to capture his first career PGA Tour title by two shots over Robert Garrigus and Matt Every.
Here’s 5 Things to take away from Beljan’s victory:
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1. DREAMS DO COME TRUE: Disney is known for its storybook endings, and Charlie Beljan provided a script destined for a made-for-TV movie.
Despite being escorted away in an ambulance after his 8-under 64 on Friday due to panic attacks, a third round that was preceded by only an hour of sleep and ignoring doctors’ advice to withdraw, Beljan held steady Sunday, mixing in three bogeys and a double bogey with eight birdies to hold off Matt Every and 2010 Disney champion Robert Garrigus.
After his long week, he was just happy to end it with the trophy in his hands.
“I was just happy that the day was over. I was happy that I was a PGA Tour champion,” said Beljan. “I was happy that my wife and my baby were here. It still isn’t real.”
Beljan had to scramble Sunday after hitting only 5 of 14 fairways. But his best putting round of the tournament – only 27 of them – helped him stay out front. He averaged 29 putts per round, which ranked 44th in the field.
“This morning, I woke up and I felt horrible again,” said Beljan. “It must be a blessing in disguise because all I think about is whether I’m going to play or not. I don’t think about the task at hand.”
Beljan led the field in birdies (22), eagles (2) and driving distance (307.4 yards). He also was T-7 in greens in regulation, at 75 percent.
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2. THEY’RE MONEY: The race to get inside the top 125 on the PGA Tour’s money list was in full effect Sunday, and Kevin Chappell was the big winner.
After starting the day at No. 123, Chappell fell outside the top 125 with a bogey on the Magnolia Course’s 12th hole, only to squeak back to the No. 125 spot despite a bogey at the par-4 17th hole.
Knowing that he was close to No. 125, Chappell admitted trying to do some math on the course.
“It’s math that I can’t do, you know?” Chappell said. “I didn’t know where Tim Herron was on the money list. I didn’t know where Russell Knox was on the money list. So you’re in a situation between a rock and a hard spot.”
Jerry Kelly finished in the excruciating position of No. 126, shooting 6-under 66 to finish T-9 in the tournament. He was $1,809 behind Chappell.
Kelly had an opportunity to move inside the top 125 with a bogey by either Josh Teater or Charlie Wi at No. 18 later in the day, but both would par to stay T-5 and keep Kelly on the outside looking in.
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3. ANOTHER SHOT: With one bad swing, Tim Herron put his potential Tour card on the line. And a brilliant round was nearly erased.
Herron made a double bogey at the par-4 17th after climbing to within a handful of shots of Beljan. Herron fell back to 11 under for the tournament and dropped from a projected 105th on the money list to No. 124.
Knowing he might need to get one of those shots back as the afternoon unfolded, Herron was just as upset by leaving his birdie attempt at the 18th on the lip. Despite the less-than-ideal finish, he managed to fire a 3-under 69 and earn his card.
“I didn’t finish well, but 17 was playing hard,” said Herron, a four-time Tour winner who has earned more than $18 million in his career. “I needed to suck it up and hit down the left and try to hit a cut, and I came over and hooked it in the water – and then left the putt on the last hole.
“I thought if I got in at 12 under, it was in. So it is what it is.”
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4. BREAKOUT YEAR: Robert Garrigus had a career year in 2012, even though he didn’t win any trophies.
Garrigus finished runner-up in five tournaments this season and also had three other top-10 performances. He posted only three top-10s in all of 2011.
During his past six tournaments, Garrigus has a T-4 (BMW Championship), T-10 (Tour Championship), T-2 (CIMB Classic) and T-2 (Disney).
He made a big run Sunday, finishing with his third 4-under 68 of the tournament.
“I just didn’t get that win this year,” said Garrigus, whose only Tour victory was in the 2010 Disney event.
Garrigus moved to 20th on the money list, with $3,206,530.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Camilo Villegas, the Tour Championship winner in 2008, is headed back to Q-School but will be exempt until the final stage by getting inside the top 150 on the money list. Villegas fired a 2-over 74 on Sunday to fall back to 8 under overall. . . . Tommy Gainey, who was only a shot off the lead after 18 holes, finished his week 71-70-76 to finish T-40. . . . Of the 78 players making the cut, only 12 finished at even par or worse. . . . Jonas Blixt failed in his attempt to get an automatic bid to the Masters, finishing T-19 and landing in the 34th spot on the money list. The top 30 are invited to Augusta National.