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Beljan Experiencing 'Dream Come True'
Charlie Beljan somehow managed to settle down Saturday and take a big step toward securing his PGA Tour card for next year after enduring a surreal second round in the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
Despite limited sleep due to a serious panic attack that almost caused him to withdraw Friday and forfeit his chance of earning a PGA Tour card for 2013, the 28-year-old hung in and shot a 1-under 71 Saturday to enter the final round with a two-stroke lead in the $4.7 million event, the final full-field tournament of the year on the PGA Tour.
The beleaguered Beljan entered the third round with a three-stroke lead thanks to a magical 8-under 64 Friday in which he nearly passed out multiple times and ended up being taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital to get checked out for worrying symptoms that included an elevated heart rate, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.
Yet those travails didn't prevent Beljan from keeping the lead in the tournament, which if he finishes among the top-10 will help him get that Tour card and ease his mind. After signing his scorecard Saturday evening, Beljan met with reporters and talked about what has transpired so far in the Disney tournament.
He summed things up right off the bat, saying, "Yesterday was a nightmare and today was a dream come true." He also sheepishly admitted that the panic attack he experienced in front of the golf world Friday - and the subsequent tests that confirmed his good health - was all on him. "Physically, everything is wonderful. It's that little space between those ears that I got to work on."
Here's what else the Arizona native candidly stated after the third round.
MODERATOR: Let's go ahead and get started. Charlie, thanks for joining us after round three of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. What you said outside a minute ago pretty much summed it up: Yesterday was a nightmare and today was a dream come true. Why don't you quickly recap us on the last 24 hours as to how you are where you are right now.
CHARLIE BELJAN: Oh, I don't know how I am where I am right now. After yesterday getting checked out before my round and not even knowing if I was going to play but being in the position I was in and looking for a good week or at least an opportunity to finish in that top 125, I knew I had to make something happen. So yesterday I little battled for about six, seven hours. The worst feelings, what I thought were life threatening feelings, I thought I literally had a chance to die.
Spent the night in the hospital; slept with my golf whose on until about 4:30 this morning before they get done with all their different tests. They put me in a room; I got about three hours of sleep before I left there about 8:00. Went back to the hotel, showered, got something to eat, showed up here, hit a few balls, and went out for what ended being a great day of golf. I was behind the eight ball early, a couple of bogeys, but more importantly I was feeling better. I think that was the key not only yesterday, but today. I wasn't focused on the golf. I didn't realize I had a three shot lead until about 10:30 last night in the hospital when I first looked at the scores. So today I showed up, and I honestly didn't know if I was going to play one hole, any holes, or I was going to get through the day. 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 this week if I could pull something off, and that's kind of what kept me going.
MODERATOR: You had mentioned around 8 and 9 you...
CHARLIE BELJAN: Yeah, around 8 and 9 today I kind of started feeling like I did yesterday, a tightness in my chest. I just had to convince myself that yesterday or last night the doctors said all the tests, everything, they wouldn't have released me from the hospital if they didn't think physically I was okay.So mentally I just had to kind of get back into telling myself I was okay and believing that instead of letting things spiral kind of like how they did yesterday. But, wow, what an opportunity. Feel fortunate to be sitting here. I mean, I though for sure I would be back in Arizona by now, but here I am with a great chance.
Tomorrow is not only a big day for me, but it's Veteran's Day. Like to thank you all those guys, men and women, that have that done everything and given us the opportunities that we have.
MODERATOR: Before we take questions, you just got some news from Andy about tomorrow.
CHARLIE BELJAN: Yeah, my mother in law and my wife and seven week old baby and my mom are fine and should be here tonight. So I'm going to make sure I stay away from all of 'em. They're staying at a different hotel. Because after one hour of sleep and what I got ahead of me tomorrow, I'm looking to go get a meal and go get some shut eye. Very exciting. I am looking forward to seeing 'em tomorrow. 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. That would be the ultimate feeling, the ultimate rush, the dream come true.
Q. How are you hitting the ball compared to when you're feeling just fine? How does that compare?
CHARLIE BELJAN: I been telling me caddie this week that my swing has felt the worse that it's felt in a long time. Somehow we keep putting it in the fairway and we keep putting it on the green. I think the big advantage for me is I'm not thinking about the golf or the putts or the chips or the shots or the swing. I'm just thinking about my health, one shot at time, one hole at a time. And, shoot the last 36 holes it's worked out pretty well.
Q. At 4:30 in the morning with your golf shoes on and you're sitting in the hospital, was there any doubt that you might not be able to play?
CHARLIE BELJAN: I would probably say 99.9% that I was not going to show up today. I showed up this morning and I was scared, I was nervous, and kind of embarrassed about the whole show that happened yesterday. I didn't know how I was going to take today, if those feelings were going to come back. There were a lot unknowns today, so coming here this morning was tough. But sometimes you just have to - when the going gets tough, you got to get however that saying goes. (Laughter.)
Q. When did it change and when did you say, Okay, I am playing?
CHARLIE BELJAN: Once I got here and did the interview and talked to a few people and had some people come up and told me, Hey, look, your health is more important than the golf game. It kind of took the pressure off. Hey, if there is something that goes wrong, my health is more important than the game. I'll hopefully have a whole bunch opportunities in the future. It was nice to have a lot of the support from players and Andy Dawson and family, but it was great.
Q. (No microphone.)
CHARLIE BELJAN: I was beat. I was beat. We kept pumping back those - I've never drank those Amino Vitals that they put in the locker room, and I was pumping those back to the point where my caddie told me I couldn't have anymore.
Q. Have you ever had a panic attack like that before?
CHARLIE BELJAN: You know, however long ago that Reno Tahoe tournament was. I passed out on the airplane coming home and we had to do an emergency landing. Since then, I've had five or six or seven of these episodes. I don't know whether it's the new baby and all the stress of coming down the wire, but with those, when I get 'em I can sit down in a room by myself where I'm comfortable and kind of talk myself out of it. Yesterday, I'm on a golf course a long way from a hospital with a lot of unknowns. I think everything just kept spiraling. I was afraid yesterday.
Q. Was there anything you were thinking about on the course? Was the fact you were leading, in contention?
CHARLIE BELJAN: No, that had nothing to do with it. Before I was 4 under par when I started when I had paramedics come up to me yesterday on the driving range before I even teed off to start my round. So that had nothing to do with it. My caddie and I were talking today, and I said, On No. 15 yesterday I was actually contemplating whether or not I was going to make the cut. That's how out of it I was. Once I got it 17 - once I got to 15 I felt like I made a turn for the worse yesterday. I really got nervous because I had put in 15 hard holes of fighting and work and going through this. Just knew if I got done there was a lot help. There was people that were going to be able to take care of me and things were going to be okay.
Q. So you slept an hour, three hours in the hospital?
CHARLIE BELJAN: I would say I probably got about an hour and a half from about 5:30 to 7:00.
Q. Did they have Golf Channel in the hospital?
CHARLIE BELJAN: They did not. I don't know if that would have freaked me out more watching all that. No, they didn't. It was noisy and cold and just a long night. But you know what? I would go do it again tonight if I had the same result as I have right now.
Q. What did the doctors tell you upon discharge?
CHARLIE BELJAN: They told me I was healthy. They ran nothing but blood work, X-rays, we did some CAT scans of my lungs, my heart. You know, and echo and ultrasound of my heart, and everything came back wonderful as it has in the past. But for some reason I get a little excited and something tightens up a little bit, and before you know it I think I'm having a heart attack.
But they let me out this morning. They said, You're good. You can be discharged. Actually, last night I made the choice to stay in the hospital strictly for what I felt was my own safety. I didn't know if going back to the hotel room last night would have been the best thing for me. They told me last night I was all right. I just stayed, and that's when they ended up doing the CAT scan and a few more things just for a little peace of mind. So physically everything is wonderful. It's that little space between those ears that I got to work on.
Q. (No microphone.)
CHARLIE BELJAN: And that's how you do it. It's funny, because through my career, whether it's been different Q schools or stuff, I've always had little not little; this was a big thing - but I've always had goofy things like this that come up. My buddy and I were talking, and it wouldn't be a win or a victory for me if everything went smooth. There has always got to be a big bump or mountain to climb somewhere in there. Now we just got 18 more to go. I can't way. Shoot, I can't ask for much more.
Q. What was sort of scariest moment from last night, if there is one?
CHARLIE BELJAN: The scariest moment was when I stood on No. 17 tee yesterday. I thought I was going to pass out and go down right there. As soon as they loaded me on that cart and put me in the back of the ambulance, immediately I felt 80% better because I felt safe. I knew if something was going to happen, I was in the right hands. After we spent an hour in the hospital I felt good, but we had to run all the tests and do that. So 17 was the scariest moment for me yesterday.
Q. You mentioned the other episodes you've have. I know you went through Valley Fever last year, too. Have any of the doctors been able to pinpoint or diagnosis any of this stuff other than anxiety maybe?
CHARLIE BELJAN: No, they haven't. But I guess that's a good thing, because I've had every test and blood panel in the world done and everything keeps coming back normal. When I get back to Phoenix I'm going to go to the Mayo Clinic and have a complete full body, head to toe exam done, and it's probably going to come back that I'm perfect. This has been a big year for me. I got my Tour card; I had hand surgery; I went to Hawaii; I got to play golf for two days before my first ever PGA Tour event; I found out on Thursday morning in Hawaii that I'm going to have a baby; I get married in March.
You know, then I'm having a bad year. I play well at the Greenbrier; I play well couple weeks ago, then I have my baby the last week of the FedEx Cup. Then I go Vegas, San Jose, play all right. McGladrey kind of locks me up inside the top 50. This week I was just coming here to play golf. I mean, the top 125 was in the back of my mind. The 150 is what took all the pressure off, but then after I read everything that's happening with the schedule changes, 150 and conditional status no longer means anything other than you get to go to the Web.com Tour. This is great. It's been a long, exciting hectic, crazy, stressful year, but hopefully we're going to end it with a bang.
Q. From what you can tell, is there any sensation that you feel that may resemble what you felt on that airplane coming back from Reno?
CHARLIE BELJAN: You know, I don't really think that the Reno, passing out on the plane, was a panic attack. That was six weeks on the road, a long week at elevation, and just my body crashed and burned. But I think that the fear that that put in front of me of passing out in front of all those people, slamming into the cockpit door, doing the emergency landing, I think that kind of just really scared me. Now every time I get on the plane I used to love to sit in the window and curl up and go right to sleep. Now I got to sit in the back on the aisle by the bathroom. I got to go get some help, that's what I got to do.
Q. Were you on your way to the bathroom when you passed out?
CHARLIE BELJAN: I was actually. I felt real sick, and I mowed over the flight attendant. The last thing I remember was opening the door and everything went black. I slammed into the cockpit door. I woke up, I had a stewardess above me screaming for a doctor and the other one on the intercom saying we're making a diversion to LAX for an emergency landing, and I'm like What is going on right now? But we got through it. I got home that night. Another thing, I land there, the paramedics bring me off and do an EKG on my heart right there on the little jetway, they hold the plane for me, I get on the plane and continue on and get home, you know.
Q. (No microphone.)
CHARLIE BELJAN: I don't know. I don't know. Nope everything is good. Just got to keep believing. Hopefully I'm sitting here tomorrow.
Q. The last two days you've been very good in, just because you had to, focusing on a good shot, a good putt, whatever it took to take the next step to the next shot. Now the health thing seems to have settled itself. How are you going to be able to take that mentality into the final round?
CHARLIE BELJAN: I'm just going to try to do the same thing, you know. This health thing, I wish I could just say that I forget about it, but it sticks in my mind and it's a constant battle. That's why I've gone through all these different things. I've played with Brian Gay; I haven't played with Josh Teater. But just going to hang out with my caddie tomorrow and hit some long drives down the middle of the fairway hopefully make some putts and do my best.
Q. You jokingly say you need to get some help.
CHARLIE BELJAN: Yeah, I actually spent three or four days at Dr. Bob Rotella's house back in well, two weeks before the Greenbrier, so whenever that was, June, July, somewhere in there. No, he's done well. I was going to talk to him this morning but I was in the hospital and my phone went dead last night at about midnight or 2:00 a.m., so I was completely cut off from everybody. Didn't get a chance to talk to him. I will be talking to him more, and hopefully there is somebody back in the Valley, in Phoenix, that can help me out. Definitely it's scary. It's no way to go through. It's only been six or eight weeks, but I just had my sister's wedding last week and I'm going there wondering if I'm going to have one of those episodes and freak out. So it's just been an ongoing battle. I've just got to figure out what to do to get past it.
Q. Wasn't the pressure of situation, though? Have you ever felt it in a round?
CHARLIE BELJAN: I've never felt that last year in Q School those last four holes I didn't even know who I was, where I was; somehow I finished and got my card. But that feeling compared to the feeling that I had yesterday, you can't put 'em in the same book. They're not even related.
Q. (No microphone.)
CHARLIE BELJAN: Once my size 15s got sick of hanging over the edge of the bed. (Laughter.)
Q. What time did you look at scores last night?
CHARLIE BELJAN: Yeah, yeah. Probably last night about 10:00 I realized I was leading by three. I looked at my phone.
Q. Before it went dead?
CHARLIE BELJAN: Before it went dead, yeah. I was dying to get to some of the video clips and see what people were saying; I couldn't. Maybe that was a good thing, too.
MODERATOR: Okay, Charlie, we appreciate your time. Glad you're here and hope to have you right back here again tomorrow.
CHARLIE BELJAN: Thank you guys for your time.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.