Beljan wins first PGA Tour event just two days after fearing he would DIE
23:23 GMT, 11 November 2012
PGA Tour rookie Charlie Beljan clung on for his maiden victory at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic – just two days after being taken to hospital following a reported panic attack.
Beljan was hospitalised after complaining of shortness of breath and an elevated heart rate during his second-round 64, and told pgatour.com: 'I thought I literally had a chance to die.'
He defied medical advice by continuing in the tournament, and justified his decision with a two-stroke win after finishing on 16 under par at Magnolia Golf Club.
Taking the Mickey: Charlie Beljan with his trophy after a memorable win
Beljan pulled clear with four successive birdies from the seventh, putts of 17 feet at the seventh and 29 at the ninth sandwiching a tap-in at the eighth where he hit his approach to a foot.
He picked up further shots at 10 and 12 to lead by five strokes but then came back to the field when he double-bogeyed the straightforward 13th after dumping his tee-shot in the water.
He bounced back with his eighth birdie of the round at the next and despite a closing bogey, a round of 69 was enough for victory.
Matt Every and Robert Garrigus finished joint second on 14 under after final rounds of 68, with Brian Gay a further shot back after shooting 70.
A group of four players sharing fifth place on 12 under included Boo Weekley – enough to earn him a top-125 place on the season's money list, and with it a tour card for next year.
Runner up: Matt Every finished second in Florida alongside Robert Garrigus
Tim Herron tied for ninth on 11 under to jump from 138th to 124th as he and Beljan replaced Billy Mayfair and Rod Pampling in the top 125 – but Jerry Kelly, also in that group, missed out by one place.
Kevin Chappell held on for the final qualifying spot after Charlie Wi and Josh Teater each finished their round with pars to stay at 12 under. Had either dropped a shot, Kelly would have tied for eighth instead of ninth and edged out Chappell.
Beljan's win lifts him from 139th to 63rd and also earns him a two-year exemption on the Tour.
He told pgatour.com: 'What a joy. This is the greatest feeling ever.
'Those five birdies in six holes made things a little bit easier. And then I threw a double bogey in there on the easiest hole on the golf course, but my thinking was I knew I had a five-shot lead.
Family fun: Beljan celebrates with his wife Merisa and son Graham after his victory
'I made double and I actually wasn't even upset about it at all, because I still had a three-shot lead with four or five to play on a Sunday on the PGA Tour and that was all I thought about.'
Discussing the panic attack symptoms, he added: “This morning I woke up and I felt horrible again. It must be a blessing in disguise because all I think about is whether I'm going to play or not. I don't think about the task at hand.
'My wife was kind enough to go sleep in the other room with the baby, so I got a great night's sleep. I woke up, I had a pounding headache and my stomach was hurting.
'But I felt great on the golf course, other than my heart was coming out of my chest and I was just trying to get through. But physically, I felt wonderful.
'(Today it was) for a great reason – Friday it was coming out of my chest for a bad reason.'