Nine-time LPGA Tour Winner Colleen Walker Dies at 56
Throughout her 23 year career, Walker won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average in 1988, broke through to win a major in 1997 (du Maurier Classic with new son in tow) and was presented the LPGA’s Heather Farr Award in 2004 in recognition of her hard work, dedication and persevering spirit. Walker was first diagnosed with breast cancer in January of 2003 when a lump was detected during a routine mammogram. Though her cancer would go into remission, it returned late last year, resurfacing in her hip and pelvis.
Colleen Walker: Credit Image: Tampa Bay Times/ZUMAPRESS.com
Walker is survived by her husband, Ron Bakich, and their son, Tyler Walker Bakich who was born shortly after his mom turned 40 and credited with reinvigorating her career.
After Tyler's birth, Colleen attached a photo of her son on a tag on her golf bag so she could see him every time she plucked a club from it. She also kept a trinket with Tyler’s name spelled out in baby blocks on the bag. Tyler traveled 10,000 miles with his mom on tour in his first year of life.
Sixteen year-old Tyler is carrying on his mother’s golfing legacy. He is a standout junior golfer who competed in the Florida Class 2A State Championship with the Newsome High School golf team in October. Tyler also won the Florida State Golf Association Junior Match Play Championship in his age group this past July.
“Colleen was not only a great ambassador for the LPGA and the game of golf, but more importantly was a true and faithful friend,” five-time LPGA winner Barb Mucha said in an LPGA release. “From her caring smile, unselfish ways and deep devotion to her family, her life touched all those she knew. She will be dearly missed, but her love will live on forever in our hearts. I am blessed to have called her friend.”
Raised in Jacksonville and Palm Beach County, Walker played at Florida State, where she was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. She was also inducted into the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame.
“I will always remember Colleen for her fight and determination on the golf course,” three-time LPGA winner Dawn Coe-Jones said via the LPGA . “Off the golf course, I loved her sense of humor. I will miss walking the fairways with her as we watched our sons compete. Rest in peace, Colleen.”
I am hardly the world's biggest golf fan, but I do know that Walker was part of an era that included Patty Sheehan, Betsy King, Nancy Lopez, JoAnne Carner (aka Big Mama) and Pat Bradley. Not only a great golfer, Walker was, by all accounts, a great human being and a great ambassador for ladies golf.