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NY Times A1: "One of the more frightening — and remarkable — rounds of golf ever caught on video."

The Paper of Record (full disclosure: I gladly subscribe) has put the saga of Charlie Beljan on A1 (below the fold) when there are just a few more things taking place in the world (I'd nominate this doozy for the front page, above the fold!)

Most amazing is the language used by authors Crouse and Pennington to describe Beljan's Friday panic attack: "One of the more frightening — and remarkable — rounds of golf ever caught on video," and, "Beljan fought bone-crushing fatigue and worry about his health to hang on for his first PGA Tour victory, a triumph over the most mental of games."

I'm guessing there are some Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan vets out there who can tell us about panic attacks induced by genuinely "frightening" horrors and real "bone crushing fatigue" from staying up for 30 hours straight dealing with the "most mental of games," better known as war.

Anyway, after spelling out the Beljan saga, the story turns to the issue of panic attacks. Ever the optimist, I thought maybe the A1 placement meant we would be exploring one of the following on A1 (well, on a Saturday following a non-news dump Friday):

- Anxiety medications in sports and their use, overuse, lack of use, etc...

- PGA Tour drug rules in a post-Lance Armstrong world and whether Beljan is unfairly deprived of necessary medication because of such rules

- Or, as one NY Times commenter noted, the rising cost of health care as evidenced by the sheer number of tests, visits and next round of tests that Beljan will be undergoing.

Instead, we get Jim McLean!

There is no relief for the struggling golfer on the course. Players cannot be removed from competition in the middle of a bad round or take a timeout to regain their composure. There are no coaches to offer comfort or teammates to help erase their mistakes.

“The only comparable thing might be a heavyweight championship fight,” said Jim McLean, an instructor to various touring pros, including Bradley and the L.P.G.A. star Cristie Kerr. “The personal pressure is enormous.”

Yes, the pressure is enormous. In a first world way! How about some perspective!

The most thought provoking of many fine comments on the NY Times site came from a self-described physician named Steve:

As a physician I must admit I find the need for an overnight hospital stay mystifying. As he had already had a previous serious panic attack in August and presumably had an extensive work-up to rule out other health issues at that time, why did the physicians who saw him now see a reason for repeating it. And, also, why does he need another work-up at the Mayo Clinic. If Mr. Beljan felt the doctors who saw him at the unnamed hospitals in August and now were incompetent, why not name the hospitals so your readers are aware of which ones he held in low esteem.

If anyone wants to know why health care costs so much in the U.S., here's one of the major reasons: doctors doing unnecessary tests simply because they'll get paid for them, not because there is any medical indication.

By the way, I didn't notice any mention about whether he sought treatment after the initial panic attack was diagnosed. If he didn't, why not?

It's also interesting that although Dr. Lieberman mentions a number of medications for panic disorder, Mr. Beljan is going to see a psychologist who can't prescribe any of them.

Hey but there's great news in all of this. The new PGA Tour calendar year schedule means players will never have to go to Disney again to fight for the top 125 status. Next year they'll be letting algorithm writers handle the heavy load.

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Reader Comments (22)

Somewhere, two-time heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton is doubtlessly reading this description of Beljan's perceived anxiety issues, elevated pulse rate, and laughing.
11.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Elling
This story is on the verge of turning into a Drama Queen issue if it does not stop about here.

The most famous Drama Queen issue is the Ken Venturi story at the 64 US Open. We don't need another one.
Yes Steve, and Jarrod Lyle may be having a chuckle also.
11.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKnee Bend
As well as Jeff Klauk
11.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
The boy better have 911 cued up in case he feels a political twitter a flitter.

He was on Morning Drivel today, and was very polite.
11.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
A legendary Australian post-war cricketer, Keith Miller, was a larger than life character - rugged, handsome, flamboyant and a superb sportsman. As well as a former combat pilot. He was apparently once asked about the pressure of playing top level cricket. "Cricket isn't pressure,'" he replied. "Pressure is having a Messerschmitt up your arse."
11.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKnee Bend
Geoff -

I am going to presume from the tone of this post that you have never experienced a panic attack or had a loved one tell you about what it is like.

I hope that in the future you will refrain from fatuous, sarcastic commentary about mental illness.
11.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Moore
@MM I know someone who has panic attacks, they said the exact same thing that Geoff has said. Also you should go read Steph Wei's post.
11.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterelf
I have been to the emergency room for a panic attack.
So I have every right to comment.
The silliness of this all comes from the fact that this was not the first time he had an episode.
He knew what it was and continued on.
Not exactly the life or death scenario that it is being portrayed as.
11.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterQrispy2
@Geoff btw fed ex points (regular season version) are no different than a money list. You get a certain number of points or dollars for a prescribed finish. Add em all up, and at end top 125 get to keep their cards. How much value you assign to a given finish is arbitrary under both systems. In reality fed ex probably more fair bc it levels issues of purse discrepancy (for instance the same finish at colonial was worth more than the equivalent finish at memorial this yr, despite memorial having better field).

The play-offs are a different story, but it is my understanding that cards will be decided by regular season pts
11.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterelf
I don't belittle mental illness, and certainly understand anxiety issues or their unpredictability. But if you note my post, the physician raised some excellent question about his diagnosis and the severity of what was going on and his future treatment. The New York Times ran with this as if he were Joe Pendleton rising from the stretcher to quarterback the Rams to the Super Bowl victory. I'm sorry, but compared to real life and death stuff that Erik Compton, Jeff Klauk and Jarrod Lyle have been facing, Charlie Beljan's anxiety about keeping his card just doesn't come even close.

Your point?
11.13.2012 | Registered CommenterGeoff
Really. I had to hit a green over a wilderness valley this past weekend for my team to carry the day during our semi-annual golf trip/baseball team reunion. That was some stress. Those guys wield a needle as long and stiff as The Donald's hair. Besides, anything golf-related written by Karen Crouse should get as much attention as anything written in the same paper by the Mustache of Understanding, about something uttered by a Calcutta cabdriver. Or something. And that analogy with boxing? Jim, personal pressure is looking across the ring and seeing the Mike Tyson of 1987 snarling back at you.
11.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Joe Pendleton! Classic!
11.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad S
The most heroic thing I've seen on a golf course since Dorf had to negotiate some especially deep casual water at La Quinta.
11.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce
What ever happened to put your head between your knees and/or breathe into a paper bag...?
11.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike S.
Wow...I should be embaressed to call that one of my fave movies, but Julie is in full tilt babe, and so it goes.

The more I have thought about the Charlie Friday, the less sympathy I feel.....he should have known what to expect and how to deal with it.
11.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Like I wrote on an earlier thread... the math didnt add up. Thank you Geoff for making my night.
11.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
I give Beljan a big pat on the back for having the balls to be so honest about this situation. He doesn't know why he gets panic attacks. When they first started, he wasn't playing competitively; he was on an airplane. I was watching the play on Friday and, like everybody else, I was just struck by the horror show of watching this man dissemble live on television was the golf equivalent of watching a train wreck. I have sympathy for anybody who has medical or psychological issues and who attempts to deal with them in an honest and transparent way. Just because this man's issues are psychological doesn't mean that they aren't real and debilitating. To use an already hackneyed phrase, this could be a bit of a teaching moment.
11.14.2012 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
@geoff, Point is algorithm writers will no more be handling the top 125 next year than they were this year. The (regular season) fed ex list is no more or less contrived than the money list.
11.14.2012 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Wonder if some opinions here about Beljan's and his issues are influenced by his stupidity on Twitter in the summer.

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