Published — Sunday 11 November 2012
Last update 11 November 2012 3:36 am
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: Charlie Beljan had trouble breathing even before he teed off, called for paramedics when he made the turn and even told his caddie at one point Friday that he thought he might die. With his job on the line at Disney, he kept right on playing until he had a remarkable 8-under 64 to build a three-shot lead going into the weekend.
The next question is if Beljan can even play on the weekend.
Moments after signing his card, Beljan was loaded onto a stretcher and wheeled to an ambulance that took him to hospital.
“I think he was scared,” said his caddie, Rick Adcox. “He kept saying he thought he was going to die. He just had that feeling. I don’t know why. But it was spooky.”
Adcox said paramedics told the 28-year-old Beljan on the 10th tee of the Palm Course that his blood pressure “wasn’t good.” It wasn’t immediately known what was ailing Beljan, who leaned back on the stretcher with his eyes closed as he was taken to the ambulance. The tour said he complained of an elevated heart rate, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.
Adcox said Beljan told him there was numbness in his arms and he felt as if he was going to faint.
The struggle was painfully clear the way Beljan stooped over with his hands on his knees, sat down in the middle of the fairway to rest. He backed off shots and tried to take deep breaths. That he wound up in the lead at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic was simply amazing.
“It was bizarre,” said Edward Loar, who played with Beljan. “I don’t know if he thought he was going to make it. It sure didn’t affect his golf. I heard him call for a paramedic on No. 9. Before the round, he said he was having a hard time breathing. Hopefully, the guy was all right. He was having a hard time breathing in there.”
Beljan, in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, is No. 139 on the money list. Disney is the final event of the year, and only the top 125 are assured of keeping their full cards for next year. Beljan would probably need to finish around 10th place to keep his card.
He was at 12-under 132, three shots clear of seven players, a group that included Henrik Stenson, 18-hole leader Charlie Wi, Harris English and Charles Howell III.
Golf didn’t seem to be a big priority at the end of a surreal day across from the Magic Kingdom, and there were concerns that Beljan might not finish.
“I thought a lot of times he was going to stop,” Adcox said. “I didn’t even think he was going to start. He asked me to go find a doctor at the beginning, and I did. The paramedics ... were on No. 10 waiting on him. Blood pressure wasn’t good then. For him to go on, that was pretty much his decision.”
When he did get over a shot, the outcome generally was superb.
“He hit four of the best iron shots I’ve seen on the par 5s,” Loar said. “It was awesome to watch.”
Beljan had two eagles and played the par 5s in 6 under. He struggled to finish, picking up a bogey on the 17th and missing the green to the right on the 18th.
Facing a difficult chip, made even tougher that he looked wobbly over the ball, he hit a beautiful shot to 4 feet to save par.