By David Cohen
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
TCU senior men’s golfer Julien Brun has racked up first-team All-America honors in each of his first three collegiate seasons and won the 2014 Big 12 Individual title. He competed in his first PGA tournament last May and graduated in December.
But he could not possibly forego one last lap around his Fort Worth home, and he has become every bit of the typical big man on campus. It all starts with his passion and support for everything purple and white.
“Here you have a tough football team in a huge stadium, baseball, basketball and everything I love in such a huge place,” Brun said. “I feel really well here and the people are extremely friendly.”
Brun hails from Antibes, France, and has more than taken to college life in America. He loves the abundance of sports both on campus, in the area, and in the whole country, and he calls it his favorite part of TCU.
“My first year coming in the TCU football team did really well the year before and the Rangers were in the World Series, and you watch the game and decide you like it. I like sports, this is a great country for me.”
He is also quick to point out how much he has taken to America’s pastime.
“I really like baseball a lot,” Brun said. “Since we are doing really well, college baseball is really exciting. We also have a great stadium.”
Baseball is not something that came naturally to Brun, either.
“I didn’t know much about baseball or [American] football either to be honest,” Brun said. “Not much about hockey either. I like every sport, so there’s always that general mood and every time you switch the TV there’s a game to watch.”
Brun’s arrival at TCU was helped by the most appropriate of connections, former TCU women’s golf All-American and Paris native Valentine Derrey.
“Valentine was on the girl’s team and she was best friends with my daughter,” head coach Bill Montigel said. “She told me, ‘hey there’s this kid over here that I think would be the perfect fit for TCU.’”
Montigel not only crossed the Atlantic Ocean to see Brun; he watched him in Istanbul, Turkey. He says Derrey was “right.”
“We got to know each other and I looked at TCU on the website, and it looked good so I ended up over here,” Brun said.
The rest of Brun’s story in America has been one to celebrate, as he has nine tournament wins, including the 2014 Big 12 title, and 25 top-10 finishes in 38 career events.
There is also one tournament that does not show up in his stat sheet, but is as priceless as can be. Brun was invited to compete at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in May 2014, an annual PGA event at Colonial Country Club. That course happens to be walking distance from the TCU campus and is TCU’s practice site.
“It was kind of like a home haven for me,” he said. “I could sleep in my bed and play on that course every day.”
His story of those few days are of enough awe to impress golf fans young and old.
“I got to play with [2007 Masters champion] Zach Johnson in the practice round and interact with all those guys in the locker room. Just the fact to see all these guys in the locker room and Jordan Spieth, and it’s a very good experience.”
As with all great athletes, the mental game matters as much, if not more, than the physical component.
“I would say my attitude and the way I am at the golf course is my best quality,” Brun said. “I never get too excited or upset about my shots. I just keep level all the time and I can get my focus really good.”
Paul Barjon, a junior who was on the Big 12’s Academic Second Team in 2014, went to the same Lycée Audiberti High School in Antibes as Brun. He echoes Brun’s self-assessment.
“He has a great short game,” Barjon said. “He’s all about playing when it counts. He’s very good under pressure.”
Montigel is in his 28th season at the helm of the men’s golf program. He has seen his share of Horned Frog and professional greats, but one particular celebrity that fits both molds comes to his mind when he thinks of Brun.
“JJ Henry was a really good player,” he said. “He was the College Player of the Year his senior year . Julien has done it consistently for four years. He was a first-team All-American the first three years, and he’s consistently one of the best players in college golf.”
Henry has been on the PGA Tour since 2001 and both wears purple every tournament and lives in Fort Worth. Putting Brun in the same echelon as Henry is nice to say the least, and there are multiple things that come to Montigel’s mind when trying to decide what Brun does best.
“It’s a combination of everything,” he said. “He’s a great leader, obviously a great player, and incredibly easy to get along with. He works really hard; I don’t think it’s just one thing.”
Brun’s golf travels have been as memorable as can be. Where he goes next will surely be a fascinating ride.