SYLVANIA, Ohio – Near the end of Cullan Brown’s obituary in the Paducah Sun, it states that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the new Cullan Brown Memorial West Kentucky Junior Golf Development Fund.
Emma Talley came across the program’s GoFundMe page on Thursday night and committed to donating something for every birdie she makes on the LPGA. Brown, 20, was her best friend.
Talley drained five birdie in a second-round 66 at the Marathon LPGA Classic. She cried after every putt. It will probably be that way for a while.
“Haven’t decided how much yet,” said Talley of her donation pledge. “It’s probably going to be quite a bit.”
The fund has already raised more than $10,000 in 24 hours.
Brown, a standout at Kentucky, died on Tuesday from osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer in his left thigh. Talley’s family home in Princeton, Kentucky, is about five minutes from the Brown’s house in Eddyville. They went to rival high schools. Talley referred to Brown as “the mayor” of Eddyville, a town of about 2,500 people. Kentucky teammate Jay Kirchdorfer once predicted that they’d rename it “Cullanville” someday.
When Talley thinks about what Saturday’s funeral will be like on the lawn of Eddyville First Baptist Church, she imagines thousands gathered together to celebrate a man who loved the outdoors as much as he loved people.
“They’re going to put him in a FootJoy shirt,” said Talley. “Through the whole chemo, every time you saw him at the hospital he’d have on a collared FootJoy shirt.”
Visitation was scheduled for Friday in Eddyville from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Talley didn’t want to get out of bed on Thursday, let alone show up to Highland Meadows and play the first round of the Marathon while wearing a mic for the Golf Channel. But she did it, because she knew that’s what Brown would want.
On Friday, she came out determined to enjoy the walk because, again, that’s how he’d want it.
Talley made over 100 Kentucky blue ribbons for players to wear at the Marathon, telling players they’d be in her staff bag. Now that most of the ribbons are gone, she’s going to make more to put on the first tee. Participants are also wearing ribbons this week at U.S. Women’s Amateur, a championship Talley won seven years ago.
Talley said she’s been blown away by the support. She’s excited about the idea of future generations knowing about Cullan too.
“We don’t really have a western Kentucky golf program,” she said, “so this is kind of the perfect opportunity to live his legacy and continue letting people know who he was.”