Longtime Valrico resident and nine-time winner on the LPGA tour, Colleen Walker, died Tuesday at her home following a long battle with cancer. She was 56 years old.
Walker was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. Following chemotherapy and radiation, she went into remission but the cancer returned to her hips and pelvis in 2011.
Walker, who played on tour from 1982-2004, leaves behind a 16-year-old son, Tyler, and her husband, Ron Bakich.
Born in Jacksonville, Walker began golfing at the age of 14. At 18, she was named the 1974 Palm Beach Post Athlete and Player of the Year and she received the Florida All-State Golf Award two years later.
She attended Florida State University where she won most valuable player honors from 1977-1978. Three years later, she turned professional.
She joined the LPGA Tour in 1982 after winning the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament. She went on to win nine tour titles, the first of them in 1987 and the last in 1997, including one major championship, the 1997 du Maurier Ltd. Classic.
In 1988, she won the LPGA Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average, was named Most Improved Player by Golf Digest and finished a career high fifth on the money list, one of four times she finished in the top 10.
In her spare time, she enjoyed gardening and watching her son play baseball and golf. Tyler Walker Bakich won his age group last summer in the Florida State Golf Association junior match play.