Panic attacks don't reappear in the third round for Charlie Beljan
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Charlie Beljan was in a hospital bed in the middle of the night, still wearing his golf shoes, thinking his season was over.
He was about six hours from his tee time Saturday at Disney. Just 12 hours earlier, he was having a panic attack on the golf course so severe he could barely breathe, his blood pressure spiked and his arms felt numb. After signing his card, he was strapped into a stretcher, loaded into an ambulance and taken to a hospital.
“I thought I literally had a chance to die,” Beljan said.
In a turnaround that even by Disney’s standards seems like a fairy tale, the 28-year-old rookie has a chance to win his first PGA Tour title.
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Beljan was released from the hospital, overcame two early bogeys and was solid over the final hour in the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic for a 1-under 71 that gave him a two-shot lead.
“I honestly didn’t know if I was going to play one hole, any holes or was I going to get through the day,” Beljan said. “I felt good, better as the day went on, and I just hung tough, hung in there. I knew what the rewards were at the end of the week if I could pull something off, and that’s kind of what kept me going.”
The rewards were ample.
This is the final PGA Tour event of the year, and Beljan is No. 139 on the money list. Only the top 125 get full cards for next year. Doctors told him he was in good enough health to be released, but perhaps not to play golf. He ignored their recommendations.
“The position I’m in, it’s kind of hard not to show up,” he said before teeing off.
Beljan had a pair of three-putt bogeys that cost him his three-shot lead after three holes, and felt some tightening in his chest as he approached the turn, the same symptoms that caused much fear Friday.
But he steadied himself, began the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and kept in front.
He was at 13-under 203, two shots ahead of Brian Gay (67), Josh Teater (67) and Charlie Wi, who was tied for the lead until closing with two bogeys for a 70.
• Inbee Park moved into position for her third victory of the year, shooting a 6-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead at 15-under 201 into the final round of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico. Cristie Kerr was second after a 67.
• Matteo Manassero shot a 7-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the rain-delayed Singapore Open. The 19-year-old Italian had an 11-under 202 total.
• Pete Bevacqua has been hired as chief executive officer for the PGA of America. Bevacqua, a former chief business officer of the U.S. Golf Association, replaces Joe Steranka, who is retiring this year after 25 years at the organization.