Julians Journey Continues


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.