Charlie Beljan overcomes wild week to win CMN Classic

Charlie Beljan celebrates his win on the 18th green after making the winning putt at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals golf tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
Charlie Beljan celebrates his win on the 18th green after making the winning putt at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals golf tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Charlie Beljan had no reason to panic Sunday. His wild week at Disney ended with a comfortable lead and his first PGA Tour victory.

What a turnaround in just two days.

Beljan struggled to breathe and his blood pressure spiked during the second round, which ended with him being wheeled out of the scoring room on a stretcher. He spent the night at the hospital. It turned out to be a panic attack that was out of control.

For 36 holes, he feared the panic attack might return. By the end of play Sunday, the 28-year-old rookie had completed a dream week.

Beljan ran off four straight birdies around the turn and built a five-shot lead on the back nine. He closed with a bogey for a 3-under 69 and a two-shot win at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.

After knocking in the last putt, he tossed his putter and walked around the 18th green on the Magnolia Course pumping his fists as it all began to sink in. Beljan was No. 139 on the PGA Tour money list coming into the final event of the year and figured he was headed back to Q-school. His win gives him a two-year exemption, a trip to Maui for the Tournament of Championship and a spot in the PGA Championship next year.

“What a joy,” he said. “This is the greatest feeling ever.”

He hoisted his 7-week-old son on the 18th green as a band played “Zippity-Do-Dah.”

Even by Disney’s standards, this was an unimaginable journey. Beljan thought he was going to die on Friday when his chest was heaving as he tried to breathe. He sat in the fairway and paramedics followed him around the back nine of Palm Course in his second round.

He got only an hour of sleep in the hospital Friday night, leaving his golf shoes on until about 4:30 a.m., then came to the course Saturday not knowing if he could finish one hole, let alone all 18. And when he woke Sunday, he had a pounding headache and an uneasy stomach.

All that is forgotten. Beljan, who finished on 16-under 272, became the fourth rookie to win on tour this year.

LPGA

Kerr wins Lorena Ochoa Invitational: In Guadalajara, Mexico, Cristie Kerr won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational for her first LPGA Tour victory in more than two years, and Stacy Lewis tied for fourth to wrap up the player of the year award.

Kerr parred the final three holes at Guadalajara Country Club to hold off Angela Stanford and third-round leader Inbee Park by a stroke. Kerr finished at 16-under 272 for her 15th LPGA Tour title and first since the LPGA Championship in June 2010.

Stanford shot 68, and Park had a 72.

The second-ranked Lewis, coming off her tour-leading fourth victory of the year last week in Japan, is the first American player of the year since Beth Daniel in 1994.

Lewis closed with a 68 to match Candie Kung at 4 under. Kung also shot 68.

Michelle Wie tied for 14th at 6 under after a 74.

Ochoa finished with a 71 to tie for 19th at 4 under.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng tied for 26th in the 36-player, closing with a 72 to finish at 1 over.

PGA Europe/Asia

Manassero wins Singapore Open in playoff: In Singapore, Matteo Manassero holed a 12-foot putt for eagle to beat Louis Oosthuizen on the third playoff hole and win the Singapore Open.