Golf

Beljan's win something to talk about

Charlie Beljan plays a shot on the 16th hole
Charlie Beljan secured his 2013 PGA Tour card with his win at Disney.
GolfWeek Jeff Rude
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Playful rookie Charlie Beljan suffered panic attacks and thought he was going to die while somehow shooting 64 in the second round of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. Paramedics strapped him onto a stretcher in the scoring area and put him in an ambulance. He spent the night in a hospital and got 90 minutes of sleep, figuring he wouldn’t be able to continue competing. And then Mr. 139 on the money list goes out and wins by two.

Only right “miracle” is in the tournament’s name.

And his story, one of the most compelling in 2012 golf, apparently has the legs of a caterpillar. Meet golf’s new media darling.

Two days after his unlikely victory, he appeared on "Inside Edition," "ABC News with Diane Sawyer" and "CBS News," plus the front page of The New York Times. Previously he went on national radio shows with Jim Rome and Tim Brando. Another dozen or so radio shows were in the plans for the rest of the week.

Probably just a matter of time before the Medical Channel calls.

• Nicolas Colsaerts is the Belgian Bomber. This guy is Beljan The Bomber.

He’s long. Despite resembling something of a walking dead man for a couple of days, Beljan led the Disney tournament in driving distance, with a 307.3-yard average.

• Beljan wasn’t even on anybody’s radar until last Friday. He was so far down the earnings list that no one could find him without time, patience, a list that went down that deep and perhaps a magnifying glass.

But now he’s on the Rookie of the Year ballot.

It goes without saying, this is a tougher race to pick than the POY lock. Beljan is up against Jonas Blixt, Bud Cauley, John Huh and Ted Potter Jr.

Huh won the Mayakoba Golf Classic, an opposite-field event, and was the only rookie to make the top 30 in FedEx Cup points and qualify for the Tour Championship. He ranked 28th in money and had four top 10s.

Blixt missed 2-1/2 months because of a rib injury in the summer, but after coming back he finished third in Las Vegas and won the Frys.com Open in consecutive weeks. He finished 34th in earnings, had five top-10 finishes and led rookies in scoring average.

PGA TOUR

Even a hospital visit can't keep Charlie Beljan from his first win as he prevails at Disney.

Cauley led rookies with six top-10 finishes and was 44th in earnings. Potter won the Greenbrier Classic, his lone top 10, and finished 62nd in the money.

And the winner is?

Huh by an eyelash over Blixt because he was the lone rookie to make the Tour Championship and led rookies in earnings. One can only wonder, though, what Blixt would have accomplished if he had not missed all that time.

• The PGA Tour released nominees for 2012 Player of the Year the other day. Five names were on the ballot. In other words, four too many.

We’ve seen this sort of thing often during the Tiger Woods Era. Only this time, instead of being a rubber-stamp winner, Woods is ballot filler, along with three others who had nice seasons: Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson and Brandt Snedeker.

Tour players vote on the matter in November, and the winner will be announced in early December. But we’ll go ahead and congratulate Rory McIlroy in advance right now.

If he somehow doesn’t win and there’s national outrage, I’m blaming the Florida electorate.

• Yes, every shot in golf makes someone happy. And on the PGA Tour, every one counts. Take Billy Hurley. He finished 151st in earnings, only $165 behind No. 150 Brendon Todd.

Had Hurley finished one spot higher, he would have been exempted into Q-School final stage instead of going to second stage this week. And he would have been able to play out of the 125-150 category next year, just in case. Because of the short 2013 season, that 125-150 status is not as valuable as in the past, when a player could get into 15-20 events the next season. But it would have been worth maybe 10 or so starts.

BUBBLE BOYS

For those on the bubble of the Top 125 on the PGA Tour money list, the uncertainty is the hardest part.

• The last PGA Tour event of the season and Q-School have one thing in common besides players trying to get jobs for the next year: avoiding eye contact.

Emotions aren’t worn on sleeves; they’re planted all over faces. You often don’t need a scoreboard to tell if a bubble boy on the No. 125 line has succeeded or failed. You could have heard a ball marker drop as playing competitors Billy Mayfair and Rod Pampling missed the 36-hole cut by a stroke and barely fell out of the top 125.

Approach at your own peril, for moods understandably get dark. When one reporter approached Bill Lunde after he missed the cut and lost an opportunity to crack the exempt list, he said, “I’m busy,” and walked quickly away.

• Three-time Tour winner Jeff Maggert, who has played on three Ryder Cup teams and contended in multiple majors, was on the 125 bubble for the fourth time in six years. He succeeded (No. 123) as he did two of those other years and now will have a seamless transition to the Champions Tour. He turns 50 in February 2014.

No matter the age in golf, the central nervous system is tested.

“The older you get, the nerves are a little like the rest of your body,” Maggert said. “You can say you’ve got all this experience, but in your mid-40s on it seems harder to muster up what it takes to pull off shots.

• Ryo Ishikawa, who had slipped to 89th in the Official World Golf Ranking, snapped a two-year winless spell on the Japan Tour on Sunday. Here’s the second sentence, featuring two numbers that normally don’t go together: He’s 21, and he has 10 victories over there.

But then who should be surprised by any brllliance served by youth these days? In the past month, a 14-year-old (Tianlang Guan) earned a Masters invitation, a 19-year-old (Matteo Manassero) bagged his third European Tour title and McIlroy, ancient at 23, became the youngest European money winner in more than three decades.

This calls for some sort of celebration. I say milk and cookies for everybody.

Tagged: John Huh, Charlie Beljan, Ted Potter, Jr., Jonas Blixt, Bill Lunde

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