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Quirky Beljan Back in Action this Week


The last time Charlie Beljan competed he was capturing the attention of the golf world with one of the most unlikely performances in recent memory. Ranked 139th on the season's money list before entering the season-ending Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in December, the 28-year-old pulled off an improbable victory at the Disney despite enduring debilitating panic attacks in the second round that caused him to tell his caddie, Rick Adcox, he thought he was going to die.

But the long-hitting Arizonan gathered himself - posting rounds of 68, 64, 71 and 69 - to finish at 16-under 272 for a two-stroke win over Matt Every and Robert Garrigus. The victory, worth $846,000, moved Beljan to 63rd on the season's money list and guaranteed him a spot within the top-125 and a 2013 Tour card.

Because of that title, Beljan joins 29 other players in the $5.7 million Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Only winners of the previous year for the event; the PGA Tour's season opener starts Friday at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in Maui.

The course favors bombers off the tee, and the 6'4" Beljan is among the game's longest hitters. Only Bubba Watson - also in the field, with an average of 315.545 yards, ranked higher than Beljan (311.575 yards) in 2012's driving distance category.

On Thursday, Beljan met with reporters. He discussed how his very public panic attacks brought focus on a problem that's frequently shunned, as well as a strange life-long preference of not liking to eat.

In what can only be considered an appropriate twosome, Beljan will be paired in the first round with Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, an idiosyncratic and self-taught South Carolinian player nicknamed for his habit of wearing a golf glove on both hands.

Here's what Beljan had to say to the media during a Q&A on the eve of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Charlie Beljan to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Charlie, first of all, welcome to Kapalua. If we can get you to look back on that victory at Disney that got you here and then your plans for this week.

CHARLIE BELJAN: Well, it's been a long seven weeks since then. A lot of things have changed in my life and it's been wonderful. I got a new motor home that I look forward to using. Unfortunately it didn't have a propeller, so I couldn't come out here with it. But feeling much better. Changed some eating habits. Changed some fitness routines and been working hard on my short game and looking forward to great week here. I figured this was the best spot - there's a tournament in April that I would like to get invited to. So I've been working hard and hopefully beat 29 or 30 of these guys here and get invited to that Masters Tournament.

Q. What has it been like to find yourself all of a sudden the public face of anxiety?

CHARLIE BELJAN: It's been good. I'd like to be known as a golfer and a free spirit and a fun loving guy, but at the same time, what I experienced out there and what everybody saw brought a lot of attention to panic attacks and anxiety attacks and what a big deal it is and how many people do face it on a daily basis. So I've gotten a lot of letters and a lot of e mails and stuff like that saying that I've been an inspiration to all and it's been pretty neat because I've touched people other than just, you know, playing golf.

Q. You told Jason Sobel how you don't like to eat and that was part of the problem at Disney, had not eaten in 20 hours. What do you mean, you don't like to eat, or you don't like food?

CHARLIE BELJAN: Yeah, you just said it. I don't like to eat. I don't like food. I wish I could swallow a few pills every morning and not have to chew on anything the rest of the day. Since I've been a kid, I'm not a food fan. I've eaten the same Subway sandwich five days a week for the last eight years and haven't changed it and I'm not willing to try. We went to a luau last night, which was wonderful, and they had a five course meal and I didn't take a bite of any of it because I wasn't willing to try it.

Now I'm eating on the golf course, eating three meals a day. They might be the same thing every day but at least I'm putting some fuel in my body. Actually it got to the point where I had to sleep at the table - sleep at the table if I didn't leave. That was my dad's thing and after a week of probably sleeping at the table, my mom started making me different meals, so it worked out.

Q. What have you seen of the course and how does it fit your game and what's your plan of attack?

CHARLIE BELJAN: It fits my game, because I love to hit the driver. I hit it long and straight, and this is a golf course of length. And now especially with all this rain we've been getting, I don't know if the golf ball is going to roll out like it has in years past so I think that favors me even more.

These greens are tricky and that's the part today that I'm going to use the Pro Am for to really try to figure out these greens, because with the ocean and the mountain and the grain, it's not something that I'm used to. So if I can figure out the greens, tee to green, I'm always pretty solid. But if I can figure out those greens, I'm looking forward to a great week.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.