An overnight stay at a nearby hospital and about one hour of sleep was not enough to keep Charlie Beljan from playing Saturday’s third round at Disney. He now takes a two-shot lead into the final round of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic after firing a 1-under 71 to take the 54-hole lead at 13-under 203 .
After complaining of chest pains, shortness of breath and heart palpitations during the second round, Beljan underwent a series of medical tests Friday night at Celebration Hospital. Doctors could find nothing physically wrong and he was released early Saturday morning though he was advised to not play the third round. The 28-year old rookie shook off the medical advice, headed back to his hotel for a shower and breakfast, and returned to the golf course intent on finishing the tournament and getting his first career victory on the PGA TOUR.
The CMNH Classic is the final PGA TOUR event of the year and players are scrambling to stay in or make the top 125 on the money list to keep their playing privileges for 2013. Beljan began the tournament at 139th on the money list and is currently projected to move to 63rd place.
“I felt like a completely different person today,” Beljan said after the round. “I’m looking forward to a nice night’s sleep tonight…and having the opportunity of a lifetime tomorrow.”
Beljan, who took a 3-shot lead into the third round, began with a few hiccups as he bogeyed two of his first three holes on the Magnolia Course. He then settled down with birdies on four of his next eight holes, bogeyed the 12th and parred the last six holes to take a two shot advantage over Brian Gay (67), Josh Teater (67) and 18-hole leader Charlie Wi (70). Teater and Wi are also looking for their first career victories on the PGA TOUR.
Seven players, among them Robert Garrigus (70), Camilo Villegas (70) and Tommy Gainey (70) are three shots back at 10-under 206.
“I would probably say 99.9 percent that I was not going to show up [Saturday],” Beljan said. “I showed up this morning and I was scared, I was nervous, and kind of embarrassed about the whole show that happened. I didn’t know how I was going to take today, if those feelings were going to come back.”
Beljan admitted that he was getting those same feelings again on the eighth hole.
“Mentally I just had to kind of get back to telling myself I was OK and believing that instead of letting things spiral,” he said. “I feel fortunate to be sitting here. I thought for sure I would be back in Arizona by now.”
He’s back and he has the biggest day of his golfing life to face on Sunday. Can he hold on for his first victory? Earlier in the year, Beljan had worked with famed sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella and more sessions are planned for the future.
“Physically, everything is wonderful. It’s that little space between those ears that I got to work on. I got to go get some help, that’s what I got to do,” he said.
With ten players within three shots of the lead, Beljan has a lot to do before he can celebrate his first career victory. His wife and family are flying in Saturday night for the final round on Sunday.
“My wife and I have always talked about how cool it is to see the family and the kids run out on the green on the 18th hole after somebody wins,” he said. “That would be the ultimate feeling, the ultimate rush.”
Family. Disney. What a storybook ending this would be.
Money List Bubble
Harrison Frazar/119/120 (not playing)
James Driscoll/120/123 (missed cut)
Rod Pampling/124/127 (missed cut)
Billy Mayfair/125/128 (missed cut)
Trevor Immelman/126/129 (missed cut; exempt from 2008 Masters win)
Gary Christian/127/130 (missed cut)