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AskLav: Another improbable comeback

Charlie Beljan
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EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE - JULY 22: Defending Champion Helen Alfredsson of Sweden plays an approach shot during the pro - am of the Evian Masters at the Evian Masters Golf Club on July 22, 2009 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)  - 

Charlie Beljan won last week on the PGA Tour after he was strapped to a gurney, rushed to a hospital and forced to chug Gatorade just to keep himself upright. The New York Times breathlessly described the rookie’s Disney title as “a triumph over the most mental of games.” For his troubles, Beljan received an $846,000 first-place check, a get-out-of-Q-School-free card and a two-year exemption.

That Friday 64, when he thought he was going to die, has to be considered one of the best rounds of the year, if not the best.

That two-shot victory at the Magic Kingdom, when he entered the event needing a top-10 finish just to keep his card, has to be considered one of the best comebacks of the year. From the ambulance to the CT scan machine to the first tee to the victory celebration with Mickey Mouse. Of course.

Not bad, Charlie, but that was far from the most inspiring performance in the past seven days. 

That’s because one day last week – with no camera crews present – I spent 7 ½ hours in a dentist’s chair and lived to tell about it. It was the longest-ever visit in that office, nearly requiring a full 8-4 shift. At the end, the dentist’s empty stomach sounded like a golf cart rumbling over a wooden bridge. All I got out of the deal was a renewed fear of drills, an astronomical bill and a few tubes of Sensodyne toothpaste. And my exemption lasts only six months!

Here’s hoping this week’s mailbag doesn’t cause dry mouth:

 @RyanLavnerGC Who are the players you are watching at Q-School? Predictions on players like N. Begay or J.Parnevik? #AskLav

Obviously I’ll be paying attention to the four college players who are currently competing in second stage – the reason why can be found here – and also guys such as former European Ryder Cupper Ross Fisher and erstwhile can’t-miss-kid Jamie Lovemark and brain-surgery patient Jeff Klauk. So many compelling stories.

As for the two players you mentioned: Well, it’s difficult to forecast success for two guys who combined to make eight PGA Tour starts in 2012, with one cut made. This season, Begay was better known for his fine work as a Golf Channel analyst and Parnevik for his “Gangnam Style” video. Advancing to the finals would be a stretch, but hey, at least their second careers appear promising.

@RyanLavnerGC What's your Social Security Number? #AskLav

Tweet sent on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 10:24 a.m.: Still time to send in Qs for this week's mailbag, to go up Thursday. Use the hashtag #AskLav. Nothing off-limits ... well, kind of.

Needless to say, I need to adjust my laissez-faire approach.

@RyanLavnerGC Going to miss Q School? #AskLav
@RyanLavnerGC #s say #webdot grads on avg. do better than QSchool grads. Don't ppl want to see the exceptional not the avg? #AskLav #Beljan

How convenient: I can answer the first question with another of this week’s queries. Sure, beginning next year, Q-School will no longer be able to produce the romanticized story of an unheralded player navigating through each stage and eventually making it onto the PGA Tour. That’s probably a good thing. Little staying power. Instead of having the same names recycled in Q-School each year, the Tour has become the official proving ground for the PGA Tour – just like the commercial says! – and the number of winners via each route in the past few years supports that. Everyone loves an underdog story, but not at the expense of a potentially stronger product.

 @GolfChannel @RyanLavnerGC The long putter, is it legal to anchor to the body? #askLav

Hello there. Good afternoon. It could not have been comfortable living under that rock. But since you briefly disappeared, Rory has supplanted Tiger as golf’s dominant player, President Obama was re-elected and, yes, it is still legal to anchor the putter to a part of the body … for now.

 @RyanLavnerGC do you agree with no masters invite for opposite-field and fall series events winners? #AskLav

Rory and Tiger seemingly simplify the task at times, but if nothing else 2012 showed it’s hard – really hard – to win on the PGA Tour, no matter if the event is played during the West Coast Swing, the Florida Swing, the Texas Swing or the Fall Series. Only 16 times in 44 stroke-play events did the 54-hole leader go on to win the tournament. Golf might be the deepest it has ever been. But Augusta National still can run its own tournament as it sees fit. If the green jackets don’t want their field size to tip the scales at 100, then it won’t. Clearly, in their collective minds, at least, those fall events are still viewed as second-tier.


To avoid long-term injury, Hulk should seek immediate medical attention for any rash lasting more than four hours.