MESA, AZ - Charlie Beljan's weekend ended the way all PGA golfers want theirs to end: a win at the Children's Miracle Network Hospital Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. But it nearly ended much, much differently.
"I thought I was having a heart attack," said Beljan. "From the first tee to the 18th, I thought I was going to pass out."
Before he teed off, Charlie knew something was very wrong.
"I told my caddie, ‘we need to get a doctor or paramedic over to the practice range to check me out.' We did that, they checked me out, and everything seemed to be okay," said Beljan.
The Mesa native eagled the first hole, but Beljan said his symptoms just got worse, "I literally felt like someone was going to pull the plug and I was going to die."
"I wasn't in a position where I could withdraw. I was outside the top 125 on the money list and I was fighting for my career, my family, my baby, everything."
He's not exaggerating. Charlie needed a top 10 finish just to retain his PGA tour privileges for the next two years.
"I knew that if I just kept taking baby steps and putting one foot in front of the other that I would eventually be done," said Beljan. "Little did I know that I'd finish with a 3-shot lead."
That's right, even though he felt like he was having a heart attack, Charlie shot a 64, the second lowest round of his career. When the first round was over, he was taken to the hospital where he received some very good news.
"The doctors said it was nothing more than a little anxiety. I had 18 holes with a couple of amateurs, a pro, and I was fighting to make the cut, fighting to keep my job. One thing led to another and I just kept spiraling."
In the end, it all worked out for Charlie; he took home a trophy, a $800,000 paycheck, and a guaranteed job for the next couple of years. Not bad for a guy who nearly lost it all to a panic attack.
"It's a dream come true," said Beljan. "Now I get to play with the best players in the world, at some of the best tournaments in the world."