GOLFER CHARLIE BELJAN TAKEN TO HOSPITAL FOLLOWING 8-UNDER 64 AT CHILDREN’S MIRACLE NETWORK HOSPITALS CLASSIC
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Charlie Beljan spent Friday night in a hospital, yet maintained his lead Saturday at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic by shooting 1-under-par 71 at Disney’s Magnolia Course.
Released from nearby Celebration Hospital on Saturday morning after a sleepless night, Beljan was unsure how he’d fare before the round began. Despite a doctor’s recommendation not to play, Beljan was back at the Walt Disney World Resort on Saturday morning.
“It was nice to walk around and be able to smile,” Beljan said after the round. “I like having fun and talking to people. And yesterday was hanging on for my life and keeping to myself. So today, I felt a lot more in my environment. (I) enjoyed being out there.
“It was a big relief. Really, it was almost nice, not that that happened yesterday, but teeing it up today, I didn’t really think of the three-shot lead or in the leader group on Saturday on the PGA Tour. I was just trying to go out there and put one foot in front of the other and see what happened.”
Beljan, 28, a PGA Tour rookie, held the 36-hole lead after a second-round 64 that came despite shortness of breath, chest pains, numbness in his arms and a feeling that he was going to faint.
After signing his scorecard, Beljan was taken by stretcher to a waiting ambulance and a trip to Celebration Hospital. He said he barely slept and was still wearing his golf shoes until 4:30 a.m.
“Still not feeling that great, but shoot, the position I’m in, it’s kind of hard not to show up,” Beljan said Saturday morning. “But an hour of sleep, and … 10:55, we’ll give it a whirl, give it our best shot.”
Remarkably, Beljan made two eagles and six birdies Friday in a 64 that might rank as the round of the year. Beljan said he remembers little of it, and at one point wondered if he was going to make the cut.
He took a three-stroke lead and can use a good week as he ranks 139th on the PGA Tour in earnings, having posted just two top-10 finishes all season. Only the top 125 will be fully exempt for 2013, and this is the last official event of the PGA Tour season.
Beljan sought medical attention before his round Friday and was clearly in distress by the back nine, when he repeatedly bent over or even went to the ground between shots. Medical personnel attended to him throughout.
At the hospital, Beljan said, a battery of tests were run, with no reason given for his troubles. Beljan said earlier this year on a flight following the Reno-Tahoe Open he fainted on the plane.
“Well, they released me this morning and they wouldn’t have done that … they released me saying that they thought I was good enough maybe not to go play golf, but at least to leave the hospital,” Beljan said. “I’m making the decision to come out here and play. Who knows if we’ll last two holes. Who knows if we’ll last 18 holes. We’re just going to take it one shot at a time, which I did yesterday and ended up pretty good.
“A little nerve-racking going out there today just strictly for the way that I’m feeling. I haven’t even thought about the three-shot lead or the golf really. It’s been my health is the No. 1 thing.”
Beljan admitted he was scared as Friday transpired.
“I’ve never been that scared,” he said. “All the doctors said that they thought everything was good. They thought maybe it was just an anxiety, turned into a panic attack, and then not having a chance to kind of sit down and take a breather. And then the paramedics show up out there and just everything kind of spiraled. We’ll see what we can do today, though. We look forward to it. And hopefully regardless of the score, just complete 18 holes.”
Senior golf writer for ESPN.com
Covered golf for more than 20 years
Earned Evans Scholarship to attend Indiana University