SONOMA, Calif.--It's impossible to watch Tom Watson in action at Sonoma G.C., in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, and not think of his late friend and caddie, Bruce Edwards (right). Stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Edwards was able to work for the last time at the 2003 Schwab Cup Championship. The progressive neurodegenerative disease took his life April 8, 2004. He was 49.
Watson has worked hard since Edwards' death, doing what he can to support research for a cure for ALS, a fatal disease that usually claims its victims three to five years after diagnosis. He remains heavily involved with Driving for Life, a fund-raising organization, but admits that medical progress has been slow in coming.
"Nothing of significance has come from any drug trial with ALS," Watson said this week, "significance meaning a 7 percent reduction in the progression of the disease. Nothing. Zero. Nada."
Watson mentioned one study in which researchers hope they have discovered a protein that could lead to a vaccine to thwart an inherited form of ALS that accounts for about 10 percent of ALS cases. "All we've got is hope," Watson said. "We've never had anything more than hope with this thing. There's nothing out there. There's not a single thing that will stop the progression of the disease. You get it, and you're going to die. We're all going to die, but you get this stuff and you're going to die quick, within three to five years. With Bruce, it was a year and a half."
(Photo: Jonathan Edwards/Getty Images)* *