Julians Journey Continues

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 4, 2002, 5:00 pm
The dnouement was different, but the story was nonetheless special.
Jeff Julian didnt get the opportunity to walk up the 18th Sunday at Pebble Beach. The 40-year-old who suffers from Lou Gehrigs disease shot rounds of 77-78-74 to miss the cut in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by a bakers dozen.
Disappointed? Not remotely so.
I want more, he said emphatically as he walked off the ninth hole, his 18th of the day, at Spyglass Hill.
Julian will next undergo chelation therapy, an alternative method that is supposed to decrease mercury levels in the body, an element that can trigger ALS - the proper name for his disease.
Hell then spend some time with his 11-year-old son, Keegan, who will be on vacation from his school in Vermont.
If things go well, he hopes to play again in March, maybe April. The BellSouth Classic, held April 4-7 outside of Atlanta, would be perfect.
Id love to play there, he said.
This was Julians first PGA Tour event since the Michelob Championship in October, the time when he first discovered he had ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Julian suffers from Bulbar ALS. The corticobulbar area of his brainstem, which controls the muscles of his mouth and tongue, is severely affected. Fifty percent of ALS victims die in the first 18 months. His is more serious.
Jeff speaks slowly, and with slurred speech. He uses his hands to stretch and move his cheeks and jaw. And when its cold, as it was this week at Pebble Beach, his teeth chatter uncontrollably.
Julian is also a man without professional status. He first joined the PGA Tour in 1996, and then again in an abbreviated 2001.
Jeff and his wife, Kim, hope to get in the neighborhood of 20 sponsor invitations this year, just like the one he received from Pebble Beach tournament director Ollie Nutt.
One of the happiest days in my (professional) life, Julian later said.
Since arriving on the Monterey Peninsula, Julian has been besieged by reporters and well-wishers. Brian Anderson, the CEO of a wireless technology business, saw his story on The Golf Channel, canceled all his meetings in New York and flew down to Pebble Beach.
Anderson said hed like to help however he can, financially or otherwise.
Were not used to all the attention, Kim said.
But Julian didnt mind. One of the reasons he wanted to play this tournament was to spread awareness of the disease.
Another was to spend time with his wife in one of their favorite places in creation.
This is a perfect place, a place that we love, Julian said. Its always the same out here, no matter what the weather.
Jeff and Kim are a couple in every sense of the word. They hold hands whenever they can, even when divided by the thin rope that separates player and spectator. They have very much a newly wed aura. In fact, they'll be married a year come Feb. 5.
Jeff said it was love at first sight. Kim said it took a second glance ' but not much of one.
As a couple, theyre dealing with this disease. They each have a son from a previous relationship. They live in Branson, Mo., to where they headed Monday.
But before that, there was one more round left to be played. Julians pro-am partner over the first three days of the tournament was Pard Erdman, a member of Cypress Point.
Cypress Point used to be in the Pro-Am rotation, last played in 1990. Its regarded by many as the most visually appealing course ' even more so than Pebble Beach ' on the peninsula. And its very, very exclusive.
What a great way to cap off the week to play Cypress, Julian said with child-like enthusiasm.
Said Erdman: Ive been playing (this event) for 24 years and this was three of the most enjoyable days I have had. It was just like being with any other pro, but he was nicer.
Thats what everyone says about Julian. And thats why everyone wants him to keep playing ' because thats what Julian wants.
To be here playing and get back in the action, it just helps me so much, personally, he said. Motivation, drive ' I want to play well, I dont care what happens. I make no excuses. Im not happy with my scores, but I had a good back nine yesterday and a good back nine today.
It was a good week.
It just didnt end the way he thought it would.
Julian didnt get a chance to walk up the 18th at Pebble Beach on Sunday. Instead, officially, it was a walk up the ninth at Spyglass on Saturday.
Not every cowboy rides off into the sunset.
His wife, her great aunt and uncle, his two sisters and a quartet of college buddies watched that final round. As did a handful of others who knew his story ' people who might not otherwise know Jeff Julian from Julius Erving.
I played good on the back nine, which was nice, Julian said. Shot a couple under on the back nine, gave the family and friends something to cheer about.
I like that.
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.