PGA Tour rookie Charlie Beljan claimed the Children’s Miracle Network Classic on Sunday, winning by two strokes to earn a PGA Tour card for the next two years two days after a hospital stay.
Beljan fired a three-under-par 69 to finish at 16-under-par for the season-ending tournament, besting fellow Americans Robert Garrigus (68) and Matt Every (68) who tied for second at 14-under while Brian Gay (70) was a shot further back in fourth.
Suffering heart palpitations and shortness of breath during the second round, the 28-year-old spent Friday night in hospital but still managed to enter the final round with a two-stroke lead.
“This is the greatest feeling ever. I’m speechless. It’s wonderful,” Beljan told reporters after his first PGA Tour win.
Starting the week at 139th on the money list and facing the prospect of losing his tour card for next year, Beljan traded two bogeys with two birdies over the first five holes.
However, in a stunning turn of events he made five birdies in a six-hole run between the seventh and 12th holes to put a gap on the field and lead by as many as five.
“I did not feel well this morning,” Beljan said. “Not the same symptoms, but my stomach was hurting, my head was pounding and I thought ‘Here we go again,’ but you know what, it may have taken a lot of the other nerves off that I may have felt if I was thinking about the golf.”
A double bogey on the 13th was just a stumble as another birdie on the 14th allowed Beljan to regain control of his round and although he bogeyed the final hole he still did more than enough to win.