Colleen Walker, the former LPGA Tour player who won nine times during her 23-year career, died Tuesday night after her second battle with cancer. She was 56.
The LPGA Tour said Walker died at her home in Valrico.
Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2003, and returned to the tour that September. Late last year, cancer resurfaced in her hips and pelvis and spread throughout her body.
Walker played the LPGA Tour from 1982 to 2004. She had a career-high three victories in 1992 and won her lone major title in 1997 in the du Maurier Classic in Canada. In 1998, she won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average and finished a career-high fifth on the money list.
"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 Tour winner Barb Mucha said. "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."
From Jacksonville, Walker was inducted into the Florida State University Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.
She is survived by husband Ron Bakich and 16-year-old son Tyler Walker Bakich, who plays for Newsome High. Tyler is a top junior golfer who won his age group in July in the Florida State Golf Association Junior Match Play Championship.
"I will always remember Colleen for her fight and determination on the golf course," three-time LPGA Tour winner Dawn Coe-Jones said. "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."
Published in TBO.com on Dec. 13, 2012