Profile of Colleen Walker, LPGA Major Winner

Colleen Walker was an LPGA winner in the 1980s and 1990s, and at one time held multiple all-time LPGA records. She delivered her first major championship victory less than a year after delivering her first baby.

Date of birth: August 16, 1956

Place of birth: Jacksonville, Florida

Date and place of death: December 11, 2012 in Valrico, Florida

Walker's Tour Wins

Colleen Walker is credited with nine wins on the LPGA Tour: She also won once on the LPGA of Japan Tour:
  • 1989 Nichirei International
And once on the Legends Tour, a senior tour:
  • 2001 Hy-Vee Classic

Her Major Championship Victory

One of Colleen Walker's nine LPGA Tour wins was in a major championship: the 1997 du Maurier Classic. The du Maurier Classic was counted as a major by the LPGA from 1979 through 2000. (It still exists today as the Canadian Women's Open, but as a regular tour event, not a major championship.)

In 1997, Walker finished at 14-under 278, beating runner-up Liselotte Neumann by two strokes. It was her first win in nearly five years, and she played a special final round to achieve it. Walker's 65 in Round 4 pushed her from two strokes behind Neumann to two in front. She made nothing but pars and birdies in the round, which tied the course record and was one stroke shy of tying the LPGA's then-record for lowest final-round score. She closed it out with a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

Making that win even more impressive: Walker won her major title 10 months after giving birth.

More About Colleen Walker

Colleen Walker won "only" once in 1988, but in some important ways she played her most consistent golf that year on the LPGA Tour. That year, Walker won the Vare Trophy for having the lowest scoring average on tour. She led the LPGA in Top 10 finishes (18 in her 29 starts), birdies (325), rounds under par (55) and rounds in the 60s (29). And her 29 rounds in the 60s was a new, all-time LPGA record then.

At the 1988 Nabisco Dinah Shore, Walker finished runner-up behind Amy Alcott (who initiated the tradition of jumping into Poppie's Pond after winning). A week later, Walker was runner-up at the San Diego Inamori Classic. Between those two events, she had seven consecutive rounds in the 60s — another LPGA record at the time.

And she finished in the Top 10 in three of the four majors that year, something only two other golfers did.

Walker grew up in Palm Beach, Fla., where her family lived near the first green of Palm Beach National Golf Club. Like many kids who live on golf courses, Walker, beginning at age 6, fished balls out of the ponds and sold them back to golfers. She also started sneaking onto the course with a 6-iron to practice, becoming a self-taught golfer.

She got serious about golf around age 14, and it paid off: She was named the local player of the year in Palm Beach in 1976, and went to Florida State University to play college golf. At FSU, Walker helped lead the team to a national championship in 1981, her senior season.

Walker turned pro late in 1981 and earned her LPGA card by winning Q-School early in 1982. She had her first Top 10 finish on the LPGA Tour in 1984, her first Top 5 in 1985, and her first win in 1987. And in 1988, she had that great year.

There were some rocky moments prior to that, however, including being disqualified twice in 1986 for signing incorrect scorecards. The second of those cost her a big check after she finished second at one event, but then DQ'd herself after contacting rules officials.

Walker won in Japan in 1989, and had one LPGA win in each of 1990 and 1991. Then came 1992, when she won three times. She was still missing a major, however, even though she'd contended at several in addition to her runner-up at the 1988 Dinah. She was fifth in the Nabisco Dinah Shore in both 1987 and 1990, seventh in 1995. In the U.S. Women's Open, Walker tied for third in 1988 and had Top 10 finishes in 1989 and 1990.

But after her 1992 wins, Walker went winless until 1997 (a gap during which she gave birth to a son). Then, she nabbed that major crown at the 1997 du Maurier. A few weeks later she won again at the 1997 Star Bank LPGA Classic, which proved to be her last victory.

Walker improved her position on the money list each of her first seven seasons, with her first top 10 money-list finish in 1987, then a career-best fifth in 1988. She was seventh in 1989 and ninth in 1992, and also had Top 20 money-list finishes in 1990-91, plus 1995 and 1997.

But after finishing 14th on the money list in 1997, Walker fell all the way to 105th in 1998. In 2000, she underwent surgery for torn cartilage in wrist. Therefore, her LPGA career essentially ended after 1999. She finished with nine wins, nine seconds, six thirds, and 95 career Top 10s.

In January 2003, Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent treatments and returned to golf later that year, playing on the Legends Tour. She was given the Heather Farr Award in 2004.

But in 2011, the cancer returned and spread through her body. Walker was only 56 when she died in 2012.

Colleen Walker is a member of the Florida State Athletic Hall of Fame and the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame.

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