Beljan hangs on to earn 1st win
Lake Buena Vista, FL (Sports Network) - Charlie Beljan closed with a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic by two strokes.
Beljan, who collected his first PGA Tour win, finished at 16-under-par 272.
The 28-year-old had entered the week needing a good finish to keep his tour card as he stood 139th on the money list. Thanks to four rounds of 71 or better, he now has his tour card for the next two seasons.
"I'm speechless. My family flew in last night, I got everybody back home rooting for me. I didn't even think I'd get to finish my round on Friday; yesterday I showed up just hoping to be able to finish 18 holes and now here I am ... the champion. This is the greatest feeling ever," Beljan said in a greenside interview.
"It's been a tough year. but it's been a great year to top off."
Beljan spent Friday night in the hospital after barely making it through Friday's round. He struggled with a rapid heart rate, shortness of breath and nearly fainted several times during the round.
After his night in the hospital in which he got an hour of sleep, Beljan returned to the Magnolia Course at Walt Disney World Resort and carded a 71 to remain atop the leaderboard.
"I did not feel well this morning. I woke up, not the same symptoms, but my stomach was hurting, my head was pounding and I was like here we go again," Beljan said on TV. "You know, that may have took the other nerves off."
In the final round, he briefly dropped into a share of the lead, but responded with five birdies in a 6-hole span from the seventh to pull away. He hung on down the stretch to earn his first victory.
Matt Every and Robert Garrigus both shot 4-under 68 on Sunday to share second place at minus-14. Brian Gay was one stroke back at 13-under-par 275 after a final-round 70.
With this being the final official event of the season, the other race was to get inside the top 125 on the money list.
Beljan and Tim Herron both moved inside that mark, while Rod Pampling and Billy Mayfair, who both missed the cut this week, fell to Nos. 127 and 128 respectively. They will have partial PGA Tour status next year, which will get them into some events.
Beljan missed the green at the first with his approach and that led to a bogey. He quickly erased that mistake with a birdie from just inside 10 feet at the second.
At the par-5 fourth, Beljan got up and down for birdie from a greenside bunker. However, he gave that stroke right back with a bogey on the fifth. That dropped him into a share of the lead with Charlie Wi and Gay.
Beljan caught fire after a par on the sixth. He rolled in a birdie effort from off the green at No. 7. He dropped his third within two feet on the par-5 eighth and kicked that in for birdie.
At the ninth, Beljan poured in a 30-footer for birdie. He made it four in a row with a 2-putt birdie on the par-5 10th. That spurt gave Beljan a 4-stroke lead.
He walked in a 31-foot birdie effort at the 12th, but trouble loomed. On the short par-4 13th, Beljan hit his drive into the right trees. He punched his second into a greenside bunker.
Beljan hit what looked to be a good bunker shot, but it rolled over the green and back into the rough. He played his fourth to 11 feet, and 2-putted for double-bogey.
That cut his lead to three, then Garrigus birdied the par-5 14th to get within two. Beljan responded with a 13-foot birdie putt on 14 to push his advantage back to three.
"I still had a 3-shot lead, so I knew I just had to keep plugging away," Beljan said in his TV interview.
Beljan cruised to three straight pars from the 15th. He found sand at the last, then 2-putted for a closing bogey from 26 feet out. It was more than enough to give him his first tour title.
Boo Weekley fired a 5-under 67 to end tied for fifth at 12-under-par 276. That helped him secure his tour card next year after entering the event 121st on the money list. He was joined at 12-under by Wi (71), Josh Teater (71) and Scott Stallings (69).
Herron shot 69 to tie for ninth at minus-11 with Tom Gillis (69), Joey Snyder III (66), Russell Knox (67), Mark D. Anderson (68) and Jerry Kelly (66). Kelly finished 126th on the money list, just $1,809 behind Kevin Chappell.
NOTES: Beljan collected $846,000 for the win and finished 63rd on the money list ... Rory McIlroy won the money title over Tiger Woods, and with his third-place finish in Singapore on Sunday, McIlroy also clinched the Race to Dubai. He followed Luke Donald as the first two players to win both money titles in the same season ... There a several offseason events, first of which will be Tuesday with the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge.
11/11 17:58:30 ET