Life Goes On for Julians Part 2

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 27, 2004, 5:00 pm
Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part story (Read Part 1) on Jeff and Kim Julian and the life they lead as they continue to battle amytrophic lateral sclerosis. A one-hour special telling the lives of Julian and fellow ALS sufferer Bruce Edwards, entitled Courage on the Fairways, will air Tuesday on TGC at 8:00 p.m. ET.
 
Of all his disabilities, there is one that bothers Jeff Julian the most: Lack of communication, he says through his computer.
 
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, has taken his voice. He now has a computer to talk for him. The computer rests on a table near his shins. It has programs that allow him to type in often-used phrases: Okie dokie'; Thats awesome'; Like, dude, totally.
 
The last one is for the kids. His wife Kim says the computer allows him to say just about anything.
 
He has one in there that is something like, Tyler, I love you dearly, but get your (butt) to bed, she said.
 
The complex machine is simple to work ' unless you only have use of your left foot.
 
In addition to the phrases he has stored ' which he activates by pressing his now adroit left big toe to individual cell blocks ' there is a program that allows him to type sentences letter-by-letter.
 
The alphabet appears on his computer screen ' which he calls Gus, after the company that makes the product. The letters are arranged in order in four rows. A highlighter scrolls down each row until Jeff clicks his mouse with his toe. It then moves across the row, and when it reaches the desired letter, Jeff clicks again.
 
He does this over and over again until he can form an entire word, and a full sentence.
 
You can only imagine how painstaking it must be.
 
But thats the way things are, and the Julians have accepted their life together as it is.
 
Its what we deal with, Kim says. Its taken a lot from us, but its given us a lot, too. Weve met some very beautiful people through this.
 
Jeff and I decided when this came up that we werent going to be victims. We were going to take things as they come and deal with it in the best possible way and turn it into something positive.
 
There are days when Im nuts or hes nuts, and when Im like that hes strong and when hes like that Im strong. We balance each other out. Its all you can do; take one day at a time.
 
Any regrets?
 
No, she says.
 
Were they meant to be?
 
Absolutely, she says.
 
They married just eight months before the diagnosis. She caddied for him in 18 tournaments.
 
I look back on that now and I am so glad we did that, that I had all that time with him, she says. If he had spent all those days on the golf course without me, I would have missed a lot of his life.
 
Kim learned a lot about her husband while working with him: That he is the most mature, laid-back person out there. I was very impressed by his patience, she says proudly.
 
Being patient in a tournament is much easier than being that way day-to-day dealing with this disease, Jeff types.
 
Their days are both rewarding and exhausting. Kim says she wakes up every morning around 6:00 a.m. and gets Tyler off to school.
 
My father now drives him to school because I cant leave Jeff because of the ventilator, she says.
 
Jeff usually gets up around 9 and Kim gives him his morning medications.
 
We usually shower every other day, because showering is quite a difficult thing to do. It just takes a lot of energy and wears him out, she says.
 
The day goes by very quickly. Its amazing how fast time flies when youre dealing with something like this.
 
Jeff spends his days tooling on his computer and watching television. He got a satellite dish so that he could watch the Red Sox playoff run last year.
 
Java in the morning, thats a highlight for me, Jeff relays.
 
Jeff and Kim have tried every imaginable drug to somehow impede the diseases march through his body, but nothing yet has worked.
 
When we realized that there was no cure, said Kim, how to fix it, how to make it go away, we tried everything we could to.
 
She stops to compose herself and offers an unnecessary apology.
 
During Masters week 2003, Julian accepted the Golf Writers Association of Americas Ben Hogan Award at Augusta National. The award is given annually to a person who has been active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness.
 
Jeffs computer malfunctioned just as he started his acceptance speech. He brought Kim on stage and communicated to her through sign language. He tearfully thanked everyone and encouraged all to spread the word about the disease and spread it in a positive manner.
 
That Wednesday was to be Jeffs first trip around Augusta National, but the heavens flooded the course and washed away his one opportunity.
 
It just wasnt meant to be, said Kim.
 
That trip could easily be a bittersweet memory for the Julians, but not so. As they do in all aspects of their life together they only see the positives.
 
They think about the awareness they helped raise and the friends they gained. They think about how Tiger Woods counted Jeff as an inspiration and took the time to talk with Kims father in the hallway.
 
We learned what a gentleman Tiger is, Jeff states.
 
As Kim echoes Jeffs sentiments, she looks over and sees the tears pouring from his eyes. She leans over and affectionately wipes them away.
 
That was a big moment for Jeff, she says.
 
Through the tears, the pain, the frustrations, the uncertainties and the inevitable, Jeff continues to live. And smile.
 
There is no give-up in this guy. This is a man who set the developmental tour record for largest round-to-round comeback when he followed an 82 in the 1997 Carolina Classic with a 63 ' and then won the Dominion Open the next week. A man who was nearly 10 strokes clear of the cut-line in the second stage of the PGA Tour Q-School one year only to lose it all and then rebound by winning in a playoff. A man who birdied three of his final four holes in the final stage in 1995 to finally earn his PGA Tour card.
 
Jeffs, like most of those suffering from an incurable disease, is a tragic, unexplainable story. But its also a very inspirational one. And thats the story the Julians wish to tell.
 
We want this to be positive. We want to inspire people, Kim says. Dont write it like its horrible; give it something that makes people feel good.
 
As the interview with Jeff and Kim concludes, Golf Channel producer Matthew Hegarty and his cameraman prepare to leave.
 
But not just yet.
 
Jeff wants to showoff a putting device he is marketing called Tru-Path.
 
They go to the office where Kims father stores and distributes the putting aid. The office has posterized photos of Jack Nicklaus watching Jeff putt during the 2002 Memorial Tournament ' He made that putt, too, Kims father, Jim, points out.
 
Matthew gives it a try. His first putt misses to the right, as does his second and his third.
 
Jeff makes a motion with his left foot. He wants you to move the ball up in your stance, Jim says.
 
Matthew does and buries the fourth putt dead-center. He reacts triumphantly and turns around to give Jeff a high-five on his left foot.
 
There he sees a happiness on Jeffs face that even his prison body cannot confine.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs at mbaggs@golfchannel.com
 
Related Links:
  • TGC Airtimes - Courage on the Fairways
  • Driving 4 Life Website
  • ALS Therapy Development Foundation
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    The Tiger comeback just got real on Friday

    By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 1:11 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Slow play was a big storyline on the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing, but not so much anymore.

    Not with Tiger Woods speeding things up Friday at the Honda Classic.

    Not with Woods thumping the gas pedal around PGA National’s Champion Course, suddenly looking as if he is racing way ahead of schedule in his return to the game.

    The narrative wondrously started to turn here.

    It turned from wondering at week’s start if Woods could make the cut here, after missing it last week at the Genesis Open. His game was too wild for Riviera, where a second-round 76 left him looking lost with the Masters just six weeks away.

    It turned in head-spinning fashion Friday with Woods climbing the leaderboard in tough conditions to get himself into weekend contention with a 1-over-par 71.

    He is just four shots off the lead.

    “I’d be shocked if he’s not there Sunday with a chance to win,” said Brandt Snedeker, who played alongside Woods in the first two rounds. “He’s close to playing some really, really good golf.”

    Just a few short months ago, so many of us were wondering if Woods was close to washed up.

    “He’s only going to improve,” Snedeker said. “The more time he has, as the weather gets warmer, he’ll feel better and be able to practice more.”

    Snedeker has had a front-row seat for this speedy Tiger turnaround. He played the third round with Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open last month. That was Woods’ first PGA Tour start in a year.


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    How much improvement did Snedeker see from that Torrey Pines experience?

    “It was kind of what I expected – significantly improved,” Snedeker said. “His iron game is way better. His driver is way better. I don’t’ see it going backward from here.”

    This was the hope packed into Friday’s new narrative.

    “I’m right there in the ballgame,” Woods said. “I really played well today. I played well all day today.”

    Tiger sent a jolt through PGA National when his name hit the top 10 of the leaderboard. He didn’t do it with a charge. He did it battling a brutish course in wintry, blustery winds, on “scratchy” and “dicey” greens that made par a good score.

    When Woods holed a 25-foot putt at the ninth to move into red numbers at 1 under overall and within three shots of the lead, a roar shook across the Champion Course.

    “It got a little loud, which was cool to see,” Snedeker said. “It’s great to have that energy and vibe back.”

    Woods sent fans scampering to get into position, blasting a 361-yard drive at the 10th, cutting the corner. He had them buzzing when he stuck his approach to 9 feet for another birdie chance to get within two of the lead.

    “I thought if he makes it, this place will go nuts, and he could get it going like he used to,” Snedeker said.

    Woods missed, but with the leaders falling back to him on this grueling day, he stuck his approach at the 12th to 10 feet to give himself a chance to move within a shot of the lead.

    It’s another putt that could have turned PGA National upside down, but Woods missed that.

    “It really is hard to make birdies,” he said. “At least I found it hard. It was hard to get the ball close, even if the ball is in the fairway, it's still very difficult to get the ball close, with the wind blowing as hard as it is. It’s hard to make putts out here.”

    Patton Kizzire, a two-time PGA Tour winner who won just last month at the Sony Open, could attest to how tough the test at Honda has become. He played alongside Woods this week for the first time in his career. He shot 78 Friday and missed the cut.

    Kizzire had a close-up look at what suddenly seems possible for Woods again.

    “He’s figuring it out,” Kizzire said. “He hit some nice shots and rolled in some nice putts. It was pretty impressive.”

    Woods could not hide his excitement in getting himself in the weekend hunt, but his expectations remain tempered in this comeback. He knows the daily referendums his game is subject to, how we can all make the highs too high and the lows too low.

    “We’ve got a long way to go,” Woods said.

    Woods lost a tee shot in a bush at the second hole and made bogey. He hit his tee shot in the water at the 15th and made double bogey. He three-putted the 16th to make bogey. He knows this course can derail a player’s plans in a hurry, but he knows his game is quickly coming around.

    “I’m right there where I can win a golf tournament,” Woods said. “Four back on this golf course with 36 holes to go, I mean, anybody can win this golf tournament right now. It’s wide open.’”

    Woods hit his shot of the day at the 17th to right his game after the struggles at the 15th and 16th. He did so in front of the Goslings Bear Trap Party Pavilion, cutting a 5-iron to 12 feet. It was the hardest hole on the course Friday, with nearly one of every three players rinsing a shot in the water there. Woods made birdie there to ignite an explosion of cheers.  He got a standing ovation.

    “I was telling you guys, I love Riviera, I just don't play well there,” Woods said. “So here we are, we're back at a golf course I know and I play well here.”

    So here we are, on the precipice of something special again?

    Woods seems in a hurry to find out.

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    List, Lovemark lead; Tiger four back at Honda

    By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 12:41 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Even with a tee shot into the water for another double bogey, Tiger Woods could see the big picture in the Honda Classic.

    He was four shots out of the lead going into the weekend.

    Luke List delivered a round not many others found possible in such difficult conditions Friday, a 4-under 66 that gave him a share of the lead with Jamie Lovemark (69). They were at 3-under 137, the highest score to lead at the halfway point of the Honda Classic since it moved to PGA National in 2007.

    So bunched were the scores that Woods was four shots out of the lead and four shots from last place among the 76 players who made the cut at 5-over 145. More importantly, he only had 13 players in front of him.

    ''This is a difficult golf course right now,'' Woods said. ''Making pars is a good thing. I've done that, and I'm right there with a chance.''

    And he has plenty of company.


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    Tommy Fleetwood, who won the Race to Dubai on the European Tour last year, scratched out a 68 and was one shot out of the lead along with Webb Simpson (72), Russell Henley (70) and Rory Sabbatini (69).

    Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger each shot 72 and were in a large group at 139. They were among only 10 players remaining under par.

    Fleetwood laughed when asked the last time he was at 2 under after 36 holes and only one shot out of the lead.

    ''Maybe some junior event,'' he said. ''It's good, though. These are the toughest test in golf. Generally, one of the best players prevail at the end of weeks like this. Weeks like this challenge you to the ultimate level. Whether you shoot two 80s or you lead after two rounds, you can see what you need to do and see where your game is. Because this is as hard as it's ever going to get for you.''

    The difficulty was primarily from the wind, which blew just as hard in the morning when List shot his 66 as it did in the afternoon. More aggravating to the players are the greens, which are old and bare, firm and crusty. It's a recipe for not making many putts.

    Defending champion Rickie Fowler had six bogeys on his front nine and shot 77 to miss the cut.

    ''It's unfortunate that the greens have changed this much in a year,'' Fowler said. ''They typically get slick and quick on the weekend because they dry out, but at least there's some sort of surface. But like I said, everyone's playing the same greens.''

    It looked as though List was playing a different course when he went out with a bogey-free 32 on the back nine, added a pair of birdies on the front nine and then dropped his only shot when he caught an awkward lie in the bunker on the par-3 seventh.

    ''It's very relentless,'' List said. ''There's not really too many easy holes, but if you hit fairways and go from there, you can make a few birdies out there.''

    List and Lovemark, both Californians, have never won on the PGA Tour. This is the third time List has had at least a share of the 36-hole lead, most recently in South Korea at the CJ Cup, where he shot 76-72 on the weekend.

    ''It's kind of irrelevant because there's going to be 30 guys within a couple shots of the lead,'' List said. ''It's going to be that type of week.''

    He was exaggerating – there were 11 players within three shots of the lead.

    And there was another guy four shots behind.

    Woods brought big energy to a Friday afternoon that already was hopping before he overcame a sluggish start and holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 9 to make the turn at 1 under for his round, and leaving him two shots out of the lead. Everyone knew it just from listening to the roars.

    Woods had his chances, twice missing birdie putts from inside 10 feet at Nos. 10 and 12, sandwiched around a 12-foot par save. His round appeared to come undone when he found the water on the 15th and made double bogey for the second straight day.

    Then, he hit out of a fairway bunker, over the water and onto the green at the dangerous 16th hole and faced a 65-foot putt. He misread the speed and the line, so badly that it was similar to a car driving from Chicago to Denver and winding up in Phoenix. A bogey dropped him to 2 over.

    The big moment was the 17th hole, 184 waters into the wind and over water. That's where Rory McIlroy made triple bogey earlier in the day that ruined his otherwise solid round of 72, leaving him seven behind. Making it even tougher for Woods is the Brandt Snedeker hit 5-iron before him to about 6 feet. Woods got to the tee and the wind died, meaning 5-iron was too much and 6-iron wouldn't clear the water.

    He went with the 5-iron.

    ''I started that thing pretty far left and hit a pretty big cut in there because I had just too much stick,'' Wood said.

    It landed 12 feet below the hole for a birdie putt.

    Thomas made 17 pars and a double bogey when he three-putted from 6 feet on No. 16. He felt the same way as Woods.

    ''I'm in a good spot – really good spot – going into this week,'' Thomas said.

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    Woods to play with Dufner (12:10 p.m.) in third round

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 12:10 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods will play alongside Jason Dufner in the third round of the Honda Classic.

    Woods and Dufner, both at 1-over 141, four shots back, will tee off at 12:10 p.m. ET Saturday at PGA National. They’re in the 10th-to-last group.


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    Co-leaders Luke List and Jamie Lovemark will go at 1:40 p.m.

    Some of the other late pairings include Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger, who will be playing together for the third consecutive day, at 1 p.m.; Louis Oosthuizen and Thomas Pieters (1:10 p.m.); and Webb Simpson and Russell Henley, in the penultimate group at 1:30 p.m.

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    Woods doesn't mind 'fun' but brutal 17th hole

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods doesn’t mind the boisterous crowd that surrounds the par-3 17th hole at PGA National.

    And why should he?

    When the wind died down Friday afternoon, Woods played a “big ol’ cut” with a 5-iron that dropped 12 feet from the cup. He made the putt – one of just nine birdies on the day – and when he walked off the green, the fans gave him a standing ovation.

    The scene is expected to be even more raucous Saturday at the Honda Classic, especially with Woods in contention.

    There is a Goslings Bear Trap tent just to the right of the tee. The hole has become a hot topic in recent years, after a few players complained that the noise from the nearby crowd was distracting as they tried to play a wind-blown, 190-yard shot over water.


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    Woods was asked his thoughts on the party setup after finishing his second-round 71.

    “As long as they don’t yell in our golf swings, we’re fine,” he said. “They can be raucous. They are having a great time. It’s fun. They are having a blast, and hopefully we can execute golf shots, but as long as they don’t yell in our golf swings, everything’s cool.”

    After the recent Waste Management Phoenix Open, a few players told Woods that fans were trying to time their screams with the players’ downswings.

    “There’s really no reason to do that,” Woods said. “I think that most of the people there at 17 are golfers, and they understand how hard a golf shot that is. So they are being respectful, but obviously libations are flowing.”

    The 17th played as the most difficult hole on the course Friday, with a 3.74 scoring average and a combined score to par of 104 over. More than a quarter of the tee shots found the water.