Beljan's crazy year adds another chapter

By Randall MellNovember 11, 2012, 12:24 am

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Golf is a crazy, mysterious and inscrutable game.

Charlie Beljan is the latest exhibit in a giant warehouse of proof the game has offered up over the years.

Steven Spielberg couldn’t make the story Beljan is scripting believable this weekend at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.

Beljan’s name is atop the leaderboard going into Sunday’s final round on Disney’s Magnolia Course after he spent a night in a hospital wondering if his name was about to be etched on a tombstone.

Gray: Beljan overcomes health scare

“I have never seen nothing like that before,” said Rick Adcox, Beljan’s caddie. “I have been caddieing since 1971, and I’ve never seen anything like that. I’ve never been involved in anything like that.”

Adcox was talking about the 64 Beljan shot Friday while battling a racing heart, bouts of hyperventilating and near fainting spells. All of that led to Beljan being toted out of the scoring center on a stretcher and raced to Florida Hospital Celebration for an overnight stay.

“I thought I literally had a chance to die,” Beljan said.

Adcox couldn’t believe the score Beljan put up in that condition.

“The golf shots he was hitting, knowing what was going on, wondering if this was the last shot he was going to hit,” Adcox said.

Former Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Parnell Dickinson was paired with Beljan as an amateur on Friday.

“He came up to me and said `I’d want that guy on my football team; he has guts,’” Adcox said. “I thought that was pretty cool coming from a guy who played football.”

Adcox was nearly as astounded by what Beljan did on Saturday after getting nearly no sleep while undergoing a battery of tests in his overnight hospital stay. Beljan grinded out a 1-under-par 71 in the third round that leaves him two shots ahead of Brian Gay, Josh Teater and Charlie Wi going into Sunday’s finish.

Beljan said he didn’t have a clue he was leading the tournament until he looked at his cellphone at 10:30 Friday night.

He said it was 4:30 Saturday morning when doctors finally finished tests that included a CAT scan, X-rays and blood work. That’s when he looked down and noticed his size-15 feet were still stuffed in his golf shoes.

Looking at his shoes, some six hours before he was supposed to tee off in Saturday’s third round, he didn’t think he could play.

“I would probably say 99.9 percent that I was not going to show up today,” Beljan said.

Doctors told Beljan, 28, that the tests revealed no apparent cause for his health issues. He left the hospital believing he suffered from a panic attack that “spun out of control.” He said it was the fifth or sixth episode like that he has battled over the last two months, since he passed out on an airplane leaving the Reno-Tahoe Classic the first week of August. He toppled over on his way to the bathroom on that flight and crashed into the cockpit door, leading the airline to make an emergency landing.

It isn’t just a crazy week Beljan’s dealing with.

It has been a crazy rookie year.

Last December, he makes it through Q-School. In January, playing the first round of his first PGA Tour event, he learns his girlfriend is having a baby. He gets married in March amid a rough start to his season, making just three of his first 11 cuts. Battling a hand injury, he undergoes surgery in the spring. He makes a run at The Greenbrier Classic in the summer, tying for third, and then his son, Graham, is born in September.

With all of that on his plate, he arrived this week at Disney at 139th on the money list knowing he likely needs a top-10 finish to keep his Tour card.

“It's been a long, exciting, hectic, crazy, stressful year, but hopefully we're going to end it with a bang,” Beljan said.

Beljan wasn’t so sure when he was released from the hospital at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, less than three hours before his scheduled tee time. Doctors told him they were confident he was healthy enough to be released from their care, but they didn’t necessarily recommend that he play under the pressure he would face in a PGA Tour event with his card in jeopardy. He left the hospital barely having slept an hour.

“I showed up this morning, and I was scared,” Beljan said. “I was nervous and kind of embarrassed about the whole show that happened Friday. I didn’t know how I was going to take today, if those feelings were going to come back. There were a lot of unknowns today.”

Beljan’s manager and friend, Andy Dawson, watched his player closely through the opening holes.

“When he made the birdie at five, I thought he was going to be fine,” Dawson said.

Dawson could see Adcox feeding Beljan and making sure he was drinking plenty of fluids. Adcox made Beljan a peanut butter sandwich at one caddie station. He kept handing him bananas. It was notable, because Beljan doesn’t usually like to eat on the golf course.

“It’s the most he’s eaten on a golf course, ever,” Adcox said.

Though Beljan said he battled through some anxiety on the eighth and ninth holes, he fought it off. While he said he plans to visit the Mayo Clinic for a head-to-toe checkup when this event’s over, he is fairly certain his issues are psychological.

A light-hearted Beljan was able to laugh about his predicament Saturday night.

“It’s the little space between the ears I have to work on,” he said. “I’ve got to get some help, that’s what I’ve got to do.”

There’s family help on the way Sunday. Beljan said he learned his wife, Merisa, and his son, Graham, are flying into Orlando from their Mesa, Ariz., home to see the final round.

His wife is a former EMT who used to drive ambulances.

“I am looking forward to seeing 'em tomorrow,” Beljan said. “My wife and I have always talked about how cool it is to see the family and the kids run out on the green on the 18th hole after somebody wins.  That would be the ultimate feeling, the ultimate rush, the dream come true.”

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.