Life Death and the Fight for a Cure

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 6, 2007, 5:00 pm
It was one of those perfect scenes. Right out of a movie. The sun slowly beginning its descent behind the pines. The temperature cooling at a quicker pace. A man, a woman walking side-by-side, arms wrapped around each other for love and warmth.
The date was January 29, 2002. The setting was Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. The couple was Jeff and Kim Julian.
'That week in Pebble Beach is probably my most memorable (time) with Jeff in golf,' Kim said by phone Monday from her home in Newton, Mass. 'It was just a wonderful, wonderful week.'
Jeff and Kim Julian
Jeff and Kim Julian. (Photo courtesy: Driving 4 Life)
Belying the beauty of that one particular moment was the fact that Jeff was waging an un-winnable war with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Jeff had been diagnosed with Bulbar ALS in the fall of 2001. By the time he had arrived to play the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on a sponsors exemption, just three months thereafter, the effects were all-too evident.
Jeffs speech was slow and slurred. He used his hands to stretch and move his cheeks and jaw. His teeth chattered uncontrollably in the cold.
ALS is commonly known as Lou Gehrigs disease. Its a neurological disease that normally starts in the limbs and, like a moving kill switch, works up the body disabling ones speech, swallowing and respiratory system along the way.
But thats where it started for Jeff. The corticobulbar area of his brainstem, which controls the muscles of the mouth and tongue, was severely affected.
There is no cure for ALS. Fifty percent of its victims die in the first 18 months of diagnosis. Julians form, a rarer variety, was more severe.
The only thing is to stay positive, Jeff said that day. Positive, thats it. The way I play golf is the way Im fighting this.
Jeff was a talented player, a winner on whats now called the Nationwide Tour, a guy who twice qualified for the PGA TOUR.
Golf was his life. And ALS took that away. On July 15, 2004, it took away his life as well.
Earlier that year, a Golf Channel crew went to the Julians home in Branson, Mo., to document the daily trials of Jeff and Kim.
By this point, Jeff could no longer play golf, and that was disheartening. Unfortunately, it was far from the worst of his debilitations.
Jeff could no longer walk. He could no longer talk. He could no longer breathe on his own. He couldnt feed himself, dress himself, bathe himself.
ALS attacks that quickly, that mercilessly.
Two-and-a-half years after his diagnosis, Jeff, a 42-year-old former professional athlete who stood 62 and weighed nearly 200 pounds, needed an electric wheelchair to move. He needed a computerized voice system to communicate. He needed his left big toe to operate the computer. He needed a ventilator to breathe.
He needed Kim for everything else.
ALS took away just about everything from Jeff, except his sense of humor -- 'It's not easy to be funny in a monotone, mechanical voice, but I like to try anyway,' he said that day through his computer -- and his family.
Jeff and Kim met at a golf tournament about 45 minutes away from her hometown of Branson. They were married for only eight months before they learned of Jeffs disease.
After Jeffs death, many, her family, she says, among them, wanted her to move on with her life. They felt she needed separation from the disease that had taken so much from her ' so much of her.
This she could not do.
Instead, she and her 14-year-old son Tyler (from a previous marriage) moved to Massachusetts. They settled in a town called Newton. It allowed her to start grieving on my own. It also allowed her to be nearer the ALS Therapy Development Foundation, now called ALS TDI.
Theres never been a time when I wanted to distance myself (from the disease), she said. It became so much bigger than Jeff. I could never have turned my back on it.
Kim went to work for a charity campaign known as Driving 4 Life, a fund-raising vehicle established in March 2003 by Jeff, Bruce Edwards, Tom Watson and ALS TDI. Edwards, Watsons longtime and legendary caddie, was also afflicted with ALS and died just one month before Jeff.
Jeff Julian and Family
The Julian family, clockwise from top left: Jeff, Kim, Tyler, Keegan. (Photo courtesy: Driving 4 Life)
Through a series of golf tournaments (more than 30 on the 2007 calendar), auctions and donations, Driving 4 Life (the 4 was Lou Gehrigs baseball jersey number) has raised over $5 million in less than four years ' all of which goes directly to ALS TDI.
Its been a wonderful outlet for me, Kim says of working with the campaign. In essence, its kept Jeff alive.
This isnt a completely selfish endeavor. Healing her own wounds is just a small part of Kims motivation. I know what its like to deal with this, she says. I want to help comfort others.
Shes been doing that as best she can for years now. Shes befriended the families of those suffering from ALS, riding the roller-coaster with them, empathizing with them, crying over their loss like it was her own.
Kim is currently going to Boston College part time, majoring in Psychology. She hopes to expand her contributions to fighting this terror by offering professional support to the care givers.
People need to hear, Youre going to be OK, she says. You really need to hear that.
Kim says that many people associated with the disease dont like to talk about a timeline in relation to a cure. You just never know, she says. It could come at any time.
She makes sure to point out that shes not a doctor, but that I honestly think we will have (a cure) in five years.
Thats Kims hope. And, hope, as Andy Dufresne said in The Shawshank Redemption is a good thing, maybe the best thing.
The only thing better would be a cure.
Progress is being made every second of every day, she adds. Every day theres a little bit of something here, something there. Theres something new every day.
Whats truly needed is money, more and more money for research and testing. ALS, which affects 30,000 people throughout the U.S., according to ALS TDI, doesnt receive the notoriety of other diseases and thus it doesnt receive equal funding.
It got a huge boost recently, however, when the Muscular Dystrophy Association awarded ALS TDI an $18 million grant, challenging the foundation to raise the same amount over the next six years. Driving 4 Life, Kim says, is hoping to up its contributions to $2 million annually.
On October 8, 2001, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis officially entered the lives of Jeff and Kim Julian. It took Jeffs life 33 months later. It is still a large part of Kims life to this day.
In Newton, Kim lives just a couple of hours away from Jeffs 16-year-old son from a previous marriage, Keegan. She and Tyler see him as often as they can. She also keeps an eye on golf. When she married Jeff, she not only entered a life-long commitment with the man, but with the sport he loved so much as well.
This week, the PGA TOUR heads to Pebble Beach. And, undoubtedly, her colleagues will be talking about who did this and who did that throughout the tournament. She, on the other hand, will be thinking about one unforgettable week five years ago. When Jeff was not just a man with ALS, but a golfer ' a competitor. A fighter.
Jeff didnt make the cut that week. But its his grit and determination to make it to the fourth and final round that makes Kim smile to this very day.
His (amateur) partner Pard Erdman said, Well, Jeff, if we miss the cut then well play Cypress (Point),' Kim recalled. Jeff looked at him and said, Id rather play Pebble. Id rather make the cut.
That was a good example of Jeff and his courage. He just never gave up.
And neither has Kim.
To make a contribution to ALS research and ALS TDI, contact Driving 4 Life
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
Related Links:
  • More on Jeff Julian
  • An Inspirational Rock at Pebble (January 30, 2002)
  • Life Goes on for the Julians (January 26, 2004)
  • Lerner: Julian Lives On (July 15, 2004)
  • Whan details LPGA changes for 2018 and beyond

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 8:56 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – The Race to the CME Globe’s season-long series and its big-bang finish at the CME Group Tour Championship are secured for another six years.

    Tour commissioner Mike Whan announced a contract extension with CME Group through 2023 in his annual state-of-the-tour address Thursday at the Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Whan also outlined changes to next year’s tournament schedule and detailed specifics of the revamp of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, with a new Q-School Series devised as the final stage beginning next year.

    Highlights from Whan’s address:

    Extending the CME Race . . .

    The Race to the CME Globe, a season-long competition for a $1 million jackpot, will be played at least six more years, with Whan announcing a contract extension through 2023.

    “We’re pretty excited about that,” Whan said.

    The LPGA is also close to finalizing details that will keep the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club.

    2018 schedule will include two new West Coast events . . .

    The LPGA is likely going to lose three events next year, but it will gain three new ones, leaving the tour with 34 events, including the UL International Crown. That’s the same number of events being played this year. Total prize money is expected to reach $69 million, up from the record $65 million played for this season.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    The Manulife LPGA Classic in Canada is off next year’s schedule, and the Lorena Ochoa Match Play also is not expected to return. The McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open is not returning, but only because it is sliding off the schedule to move up early on the 2019 schedule.

    Whan said two new West Coast events are being added, and they will be positioned on the calendar next to the Lotte Championship in Hawaii, to give players more reasons to stay out west.

    Whan said there’s also a new international event being added to the schedule, but details of the new events won’t be released until the full schedule is released sometime after Thanksgiving.

    “I hope you’ll agree that stability and predictability haven’t always been the calling card of the LPGA, but it has been the last few years,” Whan said. “I’m proud to tell you that the revenues of the LPGA in the last five or six years are up almost 90 percent. We have added 20 title sponsors and over 20 official marketing partners in the last five or six years. Don’t know too many sports that could claim that.”

    Q-School officially overhauled . . .

    Whan said the LPGA Qualifying Tournament will still be played in three stages next year, but the final stage will get a makeover as the Q-School Series.

    The LPGA will continue to host first and second stages, but instead of a five-round final stage, there will be an eight-round finals series, with two four-round tournaments scheduled in back-to-back weeks in the same city, with cumulative scores used over eight rounds. The new Q-Series site will be announced early next year.

    A field of 108 will make the Q-Series finals, with 40 to 50 LPGA tour cards up for grabs.

    The Q-Series field will be filled by players finishing 101st to 150th on the LPGA money list, players finishing 31st to 50th on the Symetra Tour money list, with up to 10 players from among the top 75 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings who don’t have LPGA membership. Also, the field will include the top five in the Golfweek Sagarin College Rankings. The rest of the field will be filled by players advancing through Q-School’s second stage, which could be anywhere from 23 to 33 players, depending how many from the world rankings and college rankings choose to go to the Q-Series.

    Ryu, S.H. Park among winners at Rolex awards

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 5:51 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – The Rolex Player of the Year and Vare Trophy winners won’t be determined until Sunday’s finish of the CME Group Tour Championship, but seven other awards were presented Thursday during the LPGA’s Rolex Awards dinner at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort.

    The awards and winners:

    William and Mousie Powell Award – Katherine Kirk won an award given to the player “whose behavior and deeds best exemplify the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA.” Kirk won the Thornberry Classic this year, her third LPGA title. “Some people ask me if I feel obligated to give back to the game,” Kirk said. “I think it’s a privilege.”

    Heather Farr Perseverance Award – Tiffany Joh, who had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma earlier this year, thanked the Farr family and all those who supported Joh through her diagnosis and recovery.

    “I found a great quote from Ram Dass, `We are all just walking each other home,’” Joh said. “I’ve really come to understand the value of all my relationships, no matter how fleeting or profound they seem.”

    The Commissioner’s Award – Roberta Bowman, outgoing chair of the LPGA Board of Directors, was honored for her service the last six years. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan called her “my friend, my boss and my hero.” Bowman deflected the praise for her back on to the tour, thanking Whan, LPGA staff, players, sponsors, fans and the media.

    “The world needs more role models for little girls,” Bowman said. “And they don’t need to look much farther than the LPGA.”

    Ellen Griffin Rolex Award and Nancy Lopez Golf Achievement Award – Sandy LaBauve, who founded the LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf program, was honored as the first person to win both these awards.

    The Griffin Award honors golf teachers and the Lopez Award honors an LPGA professional who emulates the values Lopez demonstrated. LaBauve is the daughter of Jack and Sherry Lumpkin, both teachers of the game.

    “This program doesn’t belong to me,” LaBauve said of LPGA-Girls’ Golf. “I merely planted the seed. The fruit belongs to all of us.”

    Rolex Annika Major Award – So Yeon Ryu won the award, named for Annika Sorenstam, for the best overall performance in women’s major championships this year. She won the ANA Inspiration and tied for third at the U.S. Women’s Open.

    “It’s such an honor to win an award named after Annika Sorenstam,” Ryu told Sorenstam during the presentation. “It’s a special award for me.”

    Rolex Rookie of the Year Award – Sung Hyun Park won the honor, telling the audience in a message translated from Korean that she was disappointed failing to win the KLPGA’s Rookie of the Year Award and was grateful for a dream come true getting the chance to win it on the LPGA.

    Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.

    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.