lake buena vista, fla.
Charlie Beljan was in a hospital bed in the middle of the night, still wearing his golf shoes, thinking his season was over.
He was about six hours from his tee time Saturday at Disney. Just 12 hours earlier, he was having a panic attack on the golf course so severe that he could barely breathe, his blood pressure spiked and his arms felt numb. After signing his card, he was strapped into a stretcher, loaded into an ambulance and taken to a hospital.
“I thought I literally had a chance to die,” Beljan said.
In a turnaround that even by Disney’s standards seems like a fairy tale, the 28-year-old rookie now has a chance to win his first PGA Tour title.
Beljan was released from the hospital, overcame two early bogeys and was solid over the final hour in the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic for a 1-under 71 that gave him a two-shot lead going into the final round.
“I honestly didn’t know if I was going to play one hole, any holes or was I going to get through the day,” Beljan said. “I felt good, better as the day went on, and I just hung tough, hung in there. I knew what the rewards were at the end of the week if I could pull something off, and that’s kind of what kept me going.”
The rewards were ample.
This is the final PGA Tour event of the year, and Beljan is No. 139 on the money list. Only the top 125 get full cards for next year. Doctors told him he was in good enough health to be released, but perhaps not to play golf. He ignored their recommendations.
“The position I’m in, it’s kind of hard not to show up,” he said before teeing off.