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Charlie Beljan overcomes in victory

11/12/2012 - Golf Charlie Beljan

The 2012 PGA Tour season wrapped up Sunday and wow did we see some drama at Disney.

For a while this week we weren't sure Charlie Beljan would even finish the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, much less contend for his first PGA Tour title. But the 28-year-old rookie accomplished all of the above and now has a job for at least two more years.

And what about a teenager earning not his first, but third professional victory?

Our experts analyze all that and more in our latest edition of Monday Four-Ball.


1. What stunned you the most about Charlie Beljan's victory at Disney?

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: The fact that he spent Friday night in the hospital and no one caught the guy. He had a 2-shot lead after Friday and the best score shot on the weekend was 65. You would think a guy who has panic attack symptoms would collapse, but no one caught him.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Two things: Beljan was on the verge of losing his card and he won a couple of days after having a panic attack. You don't see that combination from a winner very often.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: That he not only played, he won. Beljan on several occasions was about to withdraw on Friday. And when he was in the hospital, he admitted that the chances of him not playing were 99 percent. And then he goes out and wins? This is a guy who had made only eight cuts all year. Amazing.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: For all the things Beljan had to deal with, from the pressure of trying to keep his job, to the serious health issues he's going through, to seeking his first PGA Tour win, Beljan played the third round on virtually no sleep and shot a 1-under 71. Try doing anything in your life the day after you get an hour of sleep and check out the results. Now do it against a field of PGA Tour pros and that fact becomes even more amazing.


2. Biggest surprise player likely headed back to Q-school?

Michael Collins: Camilo Villegas. He won back-to-back playoff events in 2008 and the Honda Classic in 2010 after which he changed equipment companies including golf balls with disastrous results. After four top-10s in 2011 and zero this year, he's had only four top-25s. Now he's probably going back to Q-school, proving to everyone that you can't just play whatever clubs and ball because you think you're that good.

Farrell Evans: Camilo Villegas. After winning twice in 2008, I thought for the next 20 years he would be a top-30 player.

Bob Harig: Stuart Appleby. It was just two years ago that he shot 59 at the Greenbrier Classic on his way to his ninth PGA Tour victory. He's been unable to finish among the top 125 since, and this year missed 11 cuts and finished 162nd on the money list. He can use an exemption for being among the top-25 all-time money winners on the PGA Tour. Otherwise, he's faced with having to go to the second stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.

Kevin Maguire: Assuming he decides to go to Q-School, I'm most surprised by the performance of Camilo Villegas. The flashy Colombian started out so fast at the PGA Tour finale at Disney, shooting an opening-round 65. But the three-time PGA Tour winner couldn't break 70 the rest of the week and instead kept his streak of no finishes inside the top 20 since April intact.


3. Matteo Manassero, 19, captured his third European Tour title Sunday. How high a ceiling do you put on the young Italian?

Michael Collins: When he won at 17, it might have been thought of as a fluke by those outside golf, but then he verified the rookie win (and rookie of the year honors) his sophomore year with a victory in Malaysia. And did I forget to mention he was the youngest ever to make the cut at the Masters in 2010? Now with win No. 3 in the books, there is no ceiling for this kid on the European Tour and he's making the right move by staying there for a while.

Farrell Evans: Manassero is definitely a top-tier player, but he lacks the power that would put him in the echelon with Rory McIlroy.

Bob Harig: The issue with Manassero is length off the tee. He is not a long driver by any means, and that is going to hold him back at times. He played in only two major championships this year, although his victory in Singapore ought to help him get into all of them next year.

Kevin Maguire: Unfortunately I don't put the ceiling all that high on Manassero. Three European Tour wins is a decent career for many pros and to do so by 19 is certainly impressive. But the Italian teenager just doesn't hit the ball long enough in this day and age to win on a consistent basis. He averaged just under 272 yards this year on the European Tour and unless that number increases by 20 or 30 yards, that will hold him back because so many of today's courses are stretched to the nth degree.


4. What offseason golf event are you most looking forward to now that the PGA Tour is done for the year?

Michael Collins: Final Stage of Q-school. This is the last year final stage of Q-school will get you on the PGA Tour. It's like Cinderella's last ball. Unlike the U.S. Open where the little guy has no chance of winning, Q-school brought us many "cinderfellas." This year John Huh and Charlie Beljan won from the Q-school ranks. In the past, Rickie Fowler came from Q-school and never looked back as did Webb Simpson, Y.E. Yang, Robert Garrigus, Jason Dufner, Kyle Stanley, Scott Stallings, Gary Woodland and on and on and on. Thank God they're changing it. We don't need any more guys like that on tour.

Farrell Evans: I always enjoy Tiger Woods' event, the World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club. It's a big-money, no-cut event with 18 of the best players in the world. The golf is great and it's prestigious because Tiger is the host.

Bob Harig: It is hard to say that any of them at this point are must-see, which says something about the endless golf season. The Race to Dubai finale has been rendered all but meaningless now that Rory McIlroy has clinched the money title. It will be interesting to see how Tiger Woods fares at his own tournament in a few weeks, although how he performs will not matter much in the overall scheme of things. This week's Australian Masters has some intrigue simply because it is played at one of the great sandbelt courses -- Kingston Heath -- near Melbourne.

Kevin Maguire: It's a toss-up. I really love Q-School, even more so this year as it's the last time it'll be an avenue to the PGA Tour. But I'll go with Tiger's tournament the week after Thanksgiving mainly because I prefer to see the best in the world playing each week (small field, exhibition event or not.) That tournament probably will give us the best bang for our buck in terms of showcasing top golfing talent from around the globe until the 2013 PGA Tour season starts in early January.