One of the gutsiest performances in sports history occurred this weekend at the PGA Tour’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Walt Disney’s World in Orlando, Fla.
Charlie Beljan, a 28-year-old golfer in his first year on the tour, endured a severe panic attack during the second round of the tournament, which was the rookie’s last chance to re-qualify for next year’s PGA Tour.
Beljan finished the second round with an eight-under 64 to take the lead, despite fear that his racing heart and shortness of breath may have been the onset of a heart attack. He was taken to the hospital on a stretcher after the 18th hole, where he stayed overnight with his spikes still on his feet.
Doctors told him he shouldn’t continue playing, but after tests proved there was nothing physically wrong, he did anyway.
“I was crying on the range (before the third round) because I was so afraid these feelings would come back,” Beljan told The New York Times.
In a sport where even the best often crack under tremendous pressure (see: Rory McIlroy’s collapse during the 2011 Master’s), Beljan fought through extreme adversity to turn in one of the most remarkable tournaments in PGA history.
He finished the final two rounds four-under par to come away with the win, assuring his spot in next year’s PGA Tour. He moved up to the 63rd spot in the money list all the way from No. 139, inside the 125th spot cut-off required to make next year’s tour.
It was the ultimate display of mental toughness. Beljan’s desire to succeed simply outweighed the overbearing fear of failure. Beljan said several things played into the anxiety, but he overcame it all for one of the most inspiring performances in sports this year.
You can see some of the highlights of Beljan’s improbable victory below (via PGA Tour):
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