Former Tour member Jeff Julian, 42, dies

Updated: July 15, 2004, 6:06 PM ET
Associated Press

NORWICH, Vt. -- Former PGA Tour player Jeff Julian died Thursday, nearly three years after being diagnosed with ALS. He was 42.

Julian died of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He moved in March from his home in Branson, Mo., to the family farm where he grew up.

He played on the PGA Tour in 1996 and 2002. His best finish in 58 starts was a tie for 16th at the 1996 Buick Classic.

Julian was diagnosed with ALS in October 2001. He played seven events on the PGA Tour the following year.

In 2003, Tom Watson and his caddie, Bruce Edwards, formed Driving4Life to raise funds for the ALS Therapy Development Foundation. Edwards was diagnosed with ALS in January 2003 and died earlier this year.

"The PGA Tour is saddened to learn of Jeff Julian's passing earlier today. For the second time this year, the Tour family has been diminished by the devastating effects of ALS," commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement.

"Just as with Bruce Edwards before him, Jeff's courage and good humor in the face of the terrible illness served as an inspiration to friends and fans everywhere. He was determined to make something positive out of his illness."

Right before the Masters in April 2003, Julian accepted the Ben Hogan Award from the Golf Writers Association of America. It goes to a player who remains active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness.

Julian had lost his ability to speak five months earlier. After losing strength in his arms and legs, he had been forced to stop playing golf shortly before he went to Augusta National for the award.

Tiger Woods, accepting his player of the year award for the fourth straight time, paid tribute to Julian and Edwards.

Julian had tears as he stepped to the podium. He typed letters into his hand-held computer and held it to the microphone. The computer spoke the words.

"Tiger mentioned my name. I made it."

In 1990 and from 1997-2000, Julian played in 105 events on the Nationwide Tour. He won the 1997 Dominion Open.

Julian is survived by his wife, Kimberly, whom he met at the 2000 Ozarks Open. They have two sons, Keegan and Tyler.

A memorial gathering will be held Sunday in Hanover, N.H.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press