Charlie Beljan took a three-stroke lead halfway through the final PGA Tour event of the year before leaving the course in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in an ambulance. Beljan had shortness of breath and heart palpitations during the round.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Charlie Beljan was mostly worried about keeping his PGA Tour card when he showed up at Disney for the final tournament of the season. His priorities changed Friday over five frightening hours when he felt a shortness of breath and his heart racing, and eventually told his caddie he thought he was going to die.
Beljan’s chest heaved. He called for paramedics at the turn and was told his blood pressure was not good. He sat in the middle of the fairway to rest and knelt on the green to try to steady himself.
In a remarkable round, the 28-year-old rookie fought through the agony for an 8-under-par 64 to take a three-shot lead after the second round of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
Moments after signing his scorecard, Beljan was loaded onto a stretcher. His eyes were shut, his head tilted back — still wearing his visor — as paramedics loaded him into an ambulance parked beyond the 18th green at the Palm Course.
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“I think he was scared,” said his caddie, Rick Adcox. “He kept saying he thought he was going to die.”
A few hours later, his agent sent a text to PGA Tour officials from Celebration Hospital that Beljan was waiting on tests, feeling better and hopeful of being discharged from the hospital Friday evening.
According to an Orlando Sentinel report, Beljan told Golf Channel that doctors didn’t know what might have caused his health problems and said he expected to compete in the third round.
“As long as they tell me I’m not going to fall over and die, I will be there,” Beljan told Golf Channel.
Beljan was at 12-under 132.
Seven players were tied for second at 9 under — Matt Jones (64), Ryuji Imada (66), Harris English (67), Charles Howell III (67), Mark Anderson (67), Henrik Stenson (67) and Charlie Wi (71).
Beljan is 139th on the Tour earnings list; the top 125 after this event keep their full cards for 2013.
Ex-Washington Huskies player Richard H. Lee (74-74 — 148) was among the players missing the cut. Lee is 135th on the money list and was at 142nd on the projected-earnings list on the Tour website.
Tour officials said Beljan complained of an elevated heart rate, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.
“I thought they were going to stop him on 10 when they told him what the blood pressure was,” Adcox said. “He just said, ‘I’m going to keep going until either I pass out or they take me off.’ “
The struggle was painfully clear the way Beljan constantly stooped over with his hands on his knees, backed off shots and tried to take deep breaths.
Edward Loar, who was paired with Beljan, said, “I don’t know if he thought he was going to make it. It sure didn’t affect his golf.”
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