Agence France Presse
Published — Tuesday 13 November 2012
Last update 13 November 2012 6:35 am
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: Charlie Beljan capped a wild week with an emotional first US PGA Tour victory Sunday in the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic golf tournament, posting a two-stroke triumph just two days after he was hospitalized with a panic attack.
Beljan carded a three-under par 69 final round, countering a double-bogey and three bogeys with eight birdies for a 16-under total of 272.
Matt Every and Robert Garrigus both shot four-under 68 in the final round to share second place on 14-under 274, and Brian Gay was a stroke further back after a 70 for 275.
Beljan, who came into the final tournament of the season at 139th on the money list, needed a good week to move into the top 125 and secure full playing privileges for next season.
With the victory, he’s guaranteed his tour card for the next two seasons and a berth in the PGA Championship, but for a time it looked as if he wouldn’t even be able to finish the tournament.
“I’m speechless. My family flew in last night, I’ve got everybody back home rooting for me. I didn’t even think I’d get to finish my round on Friday.
“Yesterday I showed up just hoping to be able to finish 18 holes and now here I am ... the champion.
“This is the greatest feeling ever,” Beljan said.
Beljan, who held his seven-week-old son as he walked off the 18th green, was in hospital on Friday night, after a panic attack had him battling shortness of breath, an elevated heart rate and light-headedness during the second round.
He even told his caddie he thought his life was in jeopardy, but he opted to return to the course on Saturday and had emerged from the third round with a two-shot lead.
Even so, Beljan said he wasn’t feeling so great on Sunday morning.
“I did not feel well this morning. I woke up, not the same symptoms, but my stomach was hurting, my head was pounding and I was like here we go again,” he said. “You know, that may have took the other nerves off.”
Beljan missed the green at the first hole, leading to a quick bogey.
He rebounded with birdies at two and four, but a bogey at the fifth dropped him into a tie for the lead.
Beljan got hot at the seventh, however, draining a birdie putt from off the green. At the par-five eighth he landed his third shot within two feet and made that for birdie, and at nine he drained a 30-footer.
He made his fourth birdie in as many holes at the 10th, then drained another long birdie putt at 12.
His momentum slowed with a double-bogey from a greenside bunker at 13.
“I still had a three-shot lead, so I knew I just had to keep plugging away,” Beljan said.
Tim Herron closed with a 69 to finish tied for ninth, just squeaking into the top 125.
But there was disappointment for some who started the week on the edge. Australian Rod Pampling and American Billy Mayfair, who both missed the cut, fell to 127 and 128, respectively. Their status in the top 150 will give them partial status for next year, allowing them into some events but not all.