There’s news out Tuesday that IMG will manage and represent PGA Tour player Charlie Beljan.
These kind of behind-the-scenes business transactions mean little to the casual (or even hard-core) golf fan. But seeing the news got me to thinking about just how far Beljan has come in the past couple of years.
Playing (and winning) on the PGA Tour and now signing with IMG mean Beljan is firmly in the upper echelon of professional golfers.
Not long ago, Beljan was primarily toiling away on the Gateway Tour, an Arizona-based mini-tour. (Nothing wrong with that. Lots of good players, including many Canadians such as Adam Hadwin, develop there. But it’s a long way from the bright lights and multimillion-dollar purses of the PGA Tour.)
The 28-year-old American turned pro in 2007 and played on the mini-tour in his home state from 2008 through 2011, winning seven times. In 2009, he led the circuit’s money list with $159,000 (all currency U.S.) in earnings. In 2010, he was fourth on the money list with $60,000 and was one place better in 2011 after collecting $63,000.
He earned his big break late in 2011 at the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament, where he placed 13th to win his 2012 card. He hasn’t looked back.
He not only won in his rookie season, at the season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Classic, but he provided one of the year’s most riveting performances. He beat the field - and overcame some serious anxiety attacks that made him think was having a heart attack and might die.
Despite collapsing to the ground between shots during the second round and then leaving the course by ambulance still in his golf cleats, he survived the scare and finished the tournament – and proved the victor.
Apparently, IMG not only likes Beljan’s potential as a client but was won over by his gutsy show. “To win like Charlie did late last season, under some of the most intense pressure a golfer can face, says a lot about him as both a golfer and a person,” Clarke Jones, senior-vice president and managing director of the Americas with IMG Golf, said in a press release. “Charlie has a very bright future ahead of him and IMG looks forward to helping him achieve success on the PGA Tour and around the world.”
The IMG signing is a nice reward for Beljan. He has the weight of a global marketing and management giant behind him now.
And it’s confirmation that one of pro golf’s greatest charms is very much alive: It’s possible to go from zero to hero in a heartbeat. Even a few anxious heartbeats, in Beljan’s case.