Who exactly is Charlie Beljan? I must admit that prior to this past weekend’s Northern Trust Open, I knew next to nothing about Charlie Beljan. Sure, I remember hearing about him at the Disney tournament at the end of last year where he fainted after his third round due to extreme anxiety, spent the night in the hospital only to be released and go on to win the tournament. But, I don’t really ever remember actually seeing him play on television.
When I tuned in this past weekend’s event, I was as equally interested in day dreaming about the weather in SoCal and the lushness of Riviera CC as I was about the golf. My attention to the golf quickly took a left turn.
At the start of the day, it looked like Bill Haas was going to run away with the win, but, as his wheels began to fall off, a gaggle of golfers kept forcing their way up the leader board. The contenders flipped and flopped like trained seals at Sea World. One of the names in the mix was Charlie Beljan. Although not quite at the top, he kept lurking like a thief in the night.
With clutch par saving putts and momentum swelling birdies, Beljan fist-pumped, knuclke-bumped and shoulder-rolled his was to within one stroke of the lead with one hole to go.
Let it be known, that the 18th hole at Riviera played as it always does on the final day of the tournament – tough and unrelenting. Birdies were rare and pars were certainly no gimmes (Freddy Jacobson, anyone?). Needing a birdie to possibly get into a tie for the lead, Beljan stuck his approach shot to 18 or so feet and then proceeded to drain another fist-pumping induced birdie. Game on!
Beljan (unfortunately) lost the playoff to John Merrick (hats off to a solid young player who won his first PGA title and a Master’s invite), but, I’m guessing he made a ton of new-found supporters during the final round. A gracious loser, he seems like the kind of guy one wouldn’t mind hoisting a cool one (or two) with after a round at the local muni.
I’m hoping we see more of Beljan on the weekends. Every sport needs people like Charlie who wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Director’s Note: Rico’s piece generated a bit of interest from Cleveland Golf and Charlie Beljan himself (see Twitter photo below.) Rico will follow up with an interview with the visor man himself.