Beljan beats Phil, Els, then asks for autographs


LOS ANGELES – Charlie Beljan can’t help shaking his head these days.

In Saturday’s third round of the Northern Trust Open, he nervously stepped onto the first tee with a pair of Hall of Famers, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson. Five hours later, after outplaying both of them, he was asking them to autograph his visor.

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Who were the autographs for?

“Me,” Beljan said.

Beljan is just three months removed from his wild triumph at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. He overcame hospitalization from panic attacks after the second round to win.

Saturday’s pairing at Riviera brought home the whirlwind nature of Beljan’s life the last couple years.

“Two years ago, I am riding in carts in threesomes playing for an $8,000 winning check [on the Gateway Tour],” Beljan said. “Today, I’m walking Riviera with Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els. I’m very fortunate.”

Beljan posted the low score in the threesome. He shot 68, with Mickelson shooting 72 and Els 73.

There was a crazy atmosphere around Mickelson, but Beljan loved it.

“I’ve never played in front of that many people in my life,” Beljan said. “There were a couple times today where Phil hit a ball, and people would go wild, and the ball goes in the rough. Then I would stripe it down the middle, and I would have to ask for a clap.”

Beljan said he relished the experience and the elite company.