What We Learned: Beljan wins Disney

By Rex HoggardNovember 11, 2012, 8:38 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from that week's tournaments and news developments. This week, our writers weigh in on the incredible story of Charlie Beljan, battling his own health even more than the rest of the field, as he hung on to win at Disney and secure his Tour card for next season.

Sometimes even the “Disney-fied” stories that reach the silver screen are dripping with too much schmaltz. The effect is the opposite of reality television – call it unreal imagination, because they’re too far-fetched to be believable. Well, Disney tried to dupe us one more time this weekend. It released a tale of a longtime struggling golfer who reaches the big time, only to repeatedly finish on the wrong end of success. When he finally does get into the lead in his last chance of the season, his heart rate increases, he feels lightheaded and he’s rushed to the hospital immediately afterward. After a night of examination, he returns to the golf course whereupon he remains in the lead, only to wake up the morning of the final round in bad shape once again. He guts it out, though, and in the end – because this is a Disney film, of course – he wins the big tournament and everybody lives happily ever after. It’s a good story, if not overly implausible. There is one major plot twist, though: This may have happened at Disney, but it wasn’t a movie and it was very real. If company execs want the next big blockbuster, they could do worse than procuring “The Charlie Beljan Story,” which took place on their own turf. As far as great stories go, it’s equal parts bizarre, frightening, heartwarming and uplifting. Everything that Disney could ever want in a film. Hold the schmaltz. – Jason Sobel

Some clichés can’t be ignored. Despite a frightening trip to the emergency room with chest pains on Friday following a second-round 64 Charlie Beljan cruised to his first PGA Tour victory at Walt Disney World. As his caddie Rick “Handlebar” Adcox put it, “It was spooky (on Friday); he turned white on one hole and red on the next. I’m never going to forget that.” And we should never forget, beware the injured golfer. – Rex Hoggard

The PGA Tour’s season-ending event can do strange things to players. Last year, bubble boy James Driscoll said he vomited four times before the final round. He blamed some kind of “funky” lobster sandwich. This year, Charlie Beljan starred in the latest Disney drama, as he spent one night in the hospital and fought not just for his professional life – he began the week at No. 139 on the money list, remember – but also his actual life. The fight was compelling, so long as you weren’t a member of his immediate family. Forget Q-School – the most pressure-packed week of the year is the one in which millionaires try to secure playing privileges for the following season. Go figure. – Ryan Lavner

Golf keeps inventing ways to be inscrutable. Sports psychologists get rich trying to teach players how to manage anxiety. Fear and doubt are the great enemies of contenders trying to win. Or so we've always thought.

And then here comes Charlie Beljan, who could not have been full of more fear and doubt this weekend but still managed to win the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. He won despite playing with the fear of death on Friday. He won despite doubting he could make it to the first tee Saturday after spending a night in the hospital. He won Sunday to remind us this game we love may never truly be understood. – Randall Mell

The only thing more difficult than getting to the PGA Tour is staying there. That’s the message that resonated Sunday as I watched Camilo Villegas – a.k.a. Spiderman, a three-time PGA Tour winner and an original member of the bomb-and-gouge crowd – fail to crack the top 125 on the money list at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.

He wasn’t the only one. Tour winners Billy Mayfair and Rod Pampling came up short. So did the long-time grinder Jerry Kelly (though his place in the top 25 of the career earnings list gives him a one-year exemption).

Bottom line? What Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy do isn’t the norm on the PGA Tour. It’s difficult to win golf tournaments. It’s a struggle to rack up top 10s. It’s tough staying employed on the PGA Tour. – Damon Hack

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.