Julians Journey Continues
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.
McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.
McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.
It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.
McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).
Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).
Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.
Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award
The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.
The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.
Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.
The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.
Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.
South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.
Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.
The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout
It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.
Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.
Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.
"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."
Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.
Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.