Charlie Beljan Own Worst Enemy at Children's Miracle Network Hospital Classic

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Charlie Beljan Own Worst Enemy at Children's Miracle Network Hospital Classic
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
This is not the picture of a man who should be trying to finish his round.

$527,528.

That is how much money Charlie Beljan has made playing golf in 2012. Actually, that is just his official earnings number on the PGA Tour money list. Remarkably, despite having earned over half a million dollars this season, a sum that most people must work a decade or more to amass, Beljan is behind 138 players on the 2012 money list.

Since only the top 125 on the money list are fully-exempt on Tour next season, Beljan entered the season's final tournament, the Children's Miracle Network Hospital Classic, needing a big performance (and a big check) to keep his card for 2013.

And through two rounds, he is well on his way. Beljan holds the 36-hole lead at twelve under par, three shots clear of the field. Two more great rounds would mean a win; two more merely good rounds would likely mean a finish high enough to secure his job for next season.

It says here, though, that Beljan should withdraw from the tournament. Doctors at Celebration Hospital (and what a name that is), where Beljan was taken after the round may end up making the decision for him.

That would probably be for the best.

Even before Beljan teed off this morning, Beljan was having trouble breathing. He eagled the first hole, and naturally hoped his condition would improve. It didn't. Beljan asked for a paramedic after finishing his ninth hole after making the turn in 31(!).

And this is where it got surreal. The paramedic told Beljan on the 10th tee that his blood pressure "wasn't good."

Did Charlie Beljan make the right decision to keep playing after the ninth hole in Round 2?

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Right then and there, it was time for Charlie Beljan to tell his caddie that the tournament was over. Instead, Beljan pressed on. Throughout the back nine, Beljan labored to walk from shot to shot. He bent over with his hands on his knees, trying to breathe. He took a knee on the greens when it was not his turn to putt.

There is the temptation to see his 33 on the back nine, last sullied by a bogey on the 17th hole when it really looked like Beljan might not finish the round, as Willis Reed playing on despite a torn muscle in his right leg in the 1970 NBA playoffs, or Jack Youngblood snapping his leg in a 1979 NFL playoff game, then playing on it for another ten quarters. There is the wish to see Beljan's effort as similarly heroic.

In its way, it is. Sort of.

More than anything else, though, Beljan's decision to play the back nine in Lake Buena Vista, Florida today was reckless, short-sighted and really sort of sad.

Because what that decision tells you is that, at least at some level, Charlie Beljan was willing to risk his life for a one-year PGA Tour exemption.

The truly amazing thing is how many people let him do it. His caddie, his agent, the paramedic called to the course, hell, even Tim Finchem either tacitly or expressly let Beljan play on. If you think this is histrionic prose, or just an exaggeration for effect, tell that to his caddie, who acknowledged that Beljan told him that Beljan was afraid of dying on the golf course.

Despite so many indications that something was grievously wrong with Beljan, that he needed more medical attention than some paramedic saying his blood pressure "wasn't good," there he was, wobbling and lurching and stumbling home.

Beljan's PGA Tour profile does not mention a wife or children. Maybe the people who love him (you know there are some) would have supported his decision to finish the round, to keep the dream of keeping his Tour card another year alive.

That is not the point.

Ultimately, things like ego and money and the lure of job security (however temporary) caused Charlie Beljan to make an ill-conceived, nearly disastrous decision in the second round of the Tour's final tournament of the season.

If Beljan could not see that—or would not—somebody else should have.

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