Edwards 49 Dies from ALS

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Bruce Edwards, the caddie whose struggle with Lou Gehrig's disease inspired longtime boss Tom Watson at last year's U.S. Open, died Thursday. He was 49.
 
Edwards, Watson's caddie for 30 years, died at his home after a yearlong struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
 
'He's not with us in body, but he's with us in spirit,' said Watson, who struggled to hold back the tears. 'I'm relying on his spirit to take care of me.'
 
Edwards was on the bag for many of Watson's most memorable triumphs, including a magical opening round at last year's U.S. Open outside Chicago. The 53-year-old Watson shot a 5-under 65, matching his best score ever at the Open and giving him a share of the lead.
 
It was quite a scene as they walked up the 18th fairway together to rousing applause.
 
'He is some kind of golfer, let me tell you,' Edwards said at the time, his speech slurred by the insidious disease, which has no known cure.
 
Watson got a phone call about 6:30 a.m. telling him of Edwards' death. With a local caddy on his bag, Watson struggled to a 4-over 76.
 
'It's not a good day for any of us,' said Ben Crenshaw, who picked Edwards to be in charge of the caddies at the 1999 Ryder Cup. 'He was a real professional and one of the most positive human beings I've ever been around. It's not fair. They took a good one there.'
 
Edwards died just hours after being honored in Augusta, Ga., with the Ben Hogan award, given annually by the Golf Writers Association of America to someone who remained active in the game despite a physical handicap or serious illness.
 
Edwards' father, Jay, accepted the award. Watson also spoke, telling the crowd to celebrate his caddie's life.
 
'No long faces,' Watson said. 'Let's celebrate his wonderful heart. Not a mean bone in his body.'
 
At last year's season-ending Champions event in Sonoma, Calif., Watson earned enough points to easily win the Charles Schwab Cup as the over-50 tour's most consistent performer.
 
After receiving the Cup on the 18th green, Watson announced his intention to donate the $1 million annuity to organizations fighting ALS. Edwards was on hand for the presentation, smiling broadly.
 
'This is the cream,' Watson said. 'When you play well for a year, you make a heck of a lot of money. It's just going to allow me to give a lot more money to the charities I normally give to.'
 
Edwards was told early last year that he had one to three years to live.
 
'If I go in a year or less, I've had a wonderful life,' Edwards said at last year's U.S. Open. 'I've been lucky. I had one of the greatest golfers in the world. I've had a wonderful ride, a lot of wins, a lot of great moments.'
 
He is survived by his wife, Marsha, and his parents. Funeral services were scheduled for Tuesday in Ponte Vedra Beach.
 
Related Links:
  • Bruce Edwards: An Extraordinary Man
  • Driving 4 Life Website
  • ALS Therapy Development Foundation
  • TGC Airtimes - Courage on the Fairways
     
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