WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – Whenever a PGA Tour player does something special in a given day – takes the tournament lead or maybe shoots the low score – his round is punctuated by signing the scorecard and thanking some volunteers before being whisked away to the interview room, where TV cameras and reporters are standing by to record his innermost thoughts.
For other less successful players, the experience constitutes a brave new world. It becomes an opportunity to see how the other half lives, a chance to tell their story to an awaiting audience.
Charlie Beljan is one of these players.
Prior to posting an 8-under 62 in the second round of The Greenbrier Classic, the PGA Tour rookie had seen the interview room only on television, his more prosperous peers conveying their feelings through the microphone.
And so as Beljan emerged from large green curtain framing the backdrop of the room and saw more than a dozen journalists waiting to speak with him, he could only utter a single thought: “Ohh, wow.”
Once he got over the wonderment of the awaiting throng, it turns out Beljan is an affable sort – the type of guy who doesn’t take for granted the opportunity to tell his story, but probably still wouldn’t take it for granted if this was the 1,000th time he’d entered one of these rooms.
“Today was the best day of my career,” he started, large smile still intact. “It was wonderful from the first hole, making birdie, to the last hole. I made bogey, but it still didn’t matter. I shot 62, which was my career low round out here. To do it on the PGA Tour, each time I tee it up out here is a treat and then to do something like I did today is really something special.”
Beljan admits his heart will be racing as he enters the weekend in contention for not only his first title, but his first finish of better than 29th place, a result he accomplished two weeks ago at the Travelers Championship.
Then again, he’s a guy who likes to get his heart racing. On his first date with wife Merisa, she took him for a ride on her motorcycle and it wasn’t too long until Charlie was hooked.
“I’m kind of regretting it a little bit now,” she says with a laugh, “because he’s extra crazy.”
How crazy? He owns three bikes and even claims, “I would give up the game today if I could race motorcycles professionally.” It doesn’t stop there, either. In his official PGA Tour bio, Beljan states that he’d someday like to be strapped to the wing of a biplane. (Then again, he does balance it all out by also driving a Smart Car back home in Phoenix.)
His need for speed makes a little thing like trying to win a golf tournament seem bland by comparison. Although he does understand how his hobby can help his profession.
“That’s why I’m looking forward to the weekend,” he explains. “I like getting my heart beating. I like the adrenaline.”
He also likes being a PGA Tour member. Not that others don’t, but you get the sense that Beljan, who jumped straight from the Gateway Tour last year after qualifying through Q-School, remains extra jazzed by the newness of it all.
“Every week out here is a blast,” he says. “It truly is a treat. It’s something I’ve worked for my whole life. Now I’ve been out here and playing in front of the people. I love the people. The more people, the better, because obviously [that means] you’re doing something well.
“I mean, every day is wonderful to be out here.”
With an intriguing combination of power and finesse, chances are this won’t be Beljan’s last trip to a PGA Tour interview room. The only difference in the future is that it won’t be him exclaiming, “Ohh, wow.” He’ll leave that to everyone who’s watching him.