There was a time that the task at hand might have hampered Charlie Beljan’s approach to the start of the 2017-18 PGA season.
He is on a medical exemption to start the year, meaning he has four events of his choosing to earn enough money ($692,861) and/or Fed Ex standings points (449.06) to get back on the tour on a full-time basis.
The Red Mountain product missed his first cut and entered the back nine at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Friday above the cutline.
A back nine 3-under 33 changed all of that as Beljan finished at 1-under (3-under for the day) for the two days to finish on the cutline to secure a paycheck and points this weekend.
“It would have eaten me up and all I thought about,” Beljan said. “I don’t hang my hat on being a golfer now to represent who I am. I try to be good to everybody and I think karma always comes back, but there is no pressure as far as keeping my card.”
The attitude change came about a year ago and has allowed him to come into this season ready to play instead of worrying about his future.
“To be honest I don’t even think about (his status),” said Beljan, whose shot on the famous 16th hole finished just over three feet from the pin. “Worst case I lose my card and go down to Web.com (Tour) and I try again. I used to think it was live or die, but I have a great new wife and 5-year-old boy and that’s what is important.”
He has also learned the importance of giving back, as have the two other Mesa Public Schools products playing in the Waste Management Open this weekend as Jesse Mueller (Red Mountain), Chez Reavie (Dobson) and Beljan have all found time to continue to support their respective golf programs.
“When I coached at Dobson, (Reavie) regularly supported our program and would come out and talk to the kids,” said Red Mountain coach Frank Campos, who was a teammate with Reavie at Dobson. “Charlie and Jesse have done the same for our boys here at Red Mountain. All three still give back and take the time to come back home and support their high school team. It’s pretty special.”
Beljan, 33, said giving back is something that is important to grow the game and keep himself grounded.
“I love going back and playing with those guys, or just talking with them,” he said. “Red Mountain is where all this started. I grew up there.
“I’m a Mesa man through and through.”
Mueller, who was two years ahead of Beljan at Red Mountain and was part of the Mountain Lions’ run of seven state titles in eight years (1995-2002), earned an exemption to the PGA Tour’s 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open by winning the 60th PING Southwest PGA Championship.
He is the GCU Golf Course’s PGA director of golf and Lopes men’s golf volunteer assistant, but his duties at the course do not allow him to play as much golf as you’d think.
It showed up over the last two days as Mueller, who qualified for the 2012 U.S. Open in his only other PGA experience, shot 14-over par at 80-76 with four birdies and four double bogies.
“It was a great experience, but I played terribly,” Mueller said. “Hopefully, if I ever get another chance to play here I will have a better handle on the atmosphere and being able to just play golf.”
Reavie, who began the week ranked No. 93 in the world rankings, fired a 3-under 68 on day one and followed it up on Friday with a great round of 6-under par 65 to sit one stroke off the lead.
He enters the weekend in a great position along with fellow former Sun Devils Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson.
“It would be awesome,” Reavie, who has one career PGA win (Canadian Open in 2008), said after his round. “This is my home tournament, growing up here my whole life and coming to the tournament and carrying the sign board. So, this is like the fifth Major for me, so I’m excited to be playing well.”
Back when Reavie was carrying the sign at the Phoenix Open he was spending the rest of seemingly at Dobson Ranch, his home course, learning the game.
“He’s always had a natural feel for the game at a very young age,” said John Guerrero, who is a teaching instructor at Dobson Ranch. “On the course, his calm demeanor and maturation always seemed five years ahead of everyone else. He has the best rhythm and balance I’ve ever seen.”
While Reavie has full exemption on tour and has made the cut in all eight events this season, Beljan, who has one career PGA victory, needs two good days to finish strong with hopes of building momentum toward getting his card back.
“We are just playing golf,” said Beljan, who won the 2001 5A medalist honors Arizona state title for Red Mountain.
— Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send human interest story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.