WHILE most eyes were on Rory McIlroy winning the European Tour order of merit last Sunday, rookie Charlie Beljan recorded an extraordinary win at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in Florida.
During Friday's second round he suffered a panic attack so severe, he thought he was going to die. "I thought I was having a heart attack," he said. "I told the caddy, I said, 'I'm not leaving here until I'm getting carted off from the middle of the fairway or somewhere'. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and I got through the day."
After he finished the round, Beljan was transported by ambulance to a hospital where doctors determined that his heart appeared to be healthy. "I finally looked at my phone at 10.30 (on Friday night) and that's when I realised I had a three-shot lead. It was probably a blessing in disguise because I spent more time worrying about breathing and slowing things down."
Despite the panic attack, Beljan had carded a 64. He played the final two rounds, not only keeping his panic at bay and forcing himself to stay calm, but also holding off the field. His 16-under-par 272 gave him his first PGA victory, making him the fourth rookie to win on tour in 2012.
* * * * *
IN last week's paper we carried a letter from a parent who was concerned about taking his six-year-old to football matches because of the almost constant stream of foul language from the supporters.
Most of what you hear at Irish matches is tame enough compared to the graphic songs sung at Premier League games. It was comforting, therefore, to see the linesman at the Ireland v Greece friendly on Wednesday take a stand to ensure proper decorum prevails. The referee's assistant was careful to ensure that none of the substitutes entered the field of play until their jersey was safely tucked inside their shorts. Good to see the game's authorities have their priorities in order.
Incidentally, Denis Silver, whose letter appeared in last week's paper, and his son Ethan attended the game as guests of the FAI. They were treated to VIP tickets and they also received passes to the president's reception and the players' post-match reception.
They met John Delaney at half-time and also Paul McGrath and President Michael D Higgins, as well as several players afterwards. Delaney told Denis he issued the invitation after reading the letter because he wanted Ethan, who turned seven yesterday, to grow up with a love of football.
* * * * *
The notion that ice baths are a quick aid to recovery after sporting activity has been very much a macho thing ever since the ancient Greeks plunged into icy water after intense exercise, but the scientists found that cold-water immersion was no more and no less effective in helping an athlete recover after sport than light cool-down exercise.
Going further, they warn that the practice of plunging into ice baths might do more harm than good. The study is published in the European Journal of Sport Science.
* * * * *
ERIC CANTONA has come up with some good quotes over the years, with most people's favourite being: "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea."
And he returned to a nautical theme last week when asked about the chances of him succeeding Alex Ferguson as Manchester United boss, saying that he would like to see Fergie go on forever before adding: "But if one day there is an opportunity, why not? Like diving from here to the sea, watching, speaking to the fish, octopus, crabs, journalists."
Take over from Alex Ferguson? With a line in meaningless blather like that he could be an ideal replacement for Giovanni Trapattoni.
* * * * *
THE collection of sports books amassed by the late Con Houlihan has been donated to the library of Synge Street CBS. The Kerryman was a long-time resident of nearby Portobello and was friendly with former English teacher, Frank Burke.
Fergus McDonnell and Seán Ryan