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Former LPGA standout Colleen Walker, whose struggle with terminal cancer and her son's concurrent quest for a state golf title were profiled in a Times story in October, died Tuesday at her Valrico home.
Ms. Walker, who had been under the care of LifePath Hospice, was 56. A family member who asked not to be named said "she did pass peacefully and pain-free at home with family members around her."
An FSU Hall of Fame member and nine-time LPGA Tour winner, Ms. Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 10 years ago but conquered it, finishing 10th in a seniors event only eight months later.
She was diagnosed with bone cancer in the summer of 2011, and admitted to hospice care in late October when doctors determined it had spread to her brain. Two days after being admitted, her only child, Newsome sophomore Tyler Bakich, shot 5-under-par 67 on the final day of the Class 2A state tournament to tie for fourth.
It was the best round posted at the two-day tournament.
"At least I have something to play for," Bakich said minutes after his round. "I mean, I had stuff to play for (before), but this has gotten bigger. I have stuff way more important."
Known for her resilience and masterful short game, Ms. Walker earned $3 million on the Tour. She captured her only major -- the 1997 du Maurier Classic -- with a final-round 65 capped by a 120-yard approach shot on No. 18 that landed within 18 feet of the pin.
She is survived by her son, husband Ron Bakich, parents Lamar and Mary Ellen Walker, brother Robin Walker, and stepsons Warga and Huntley Bakich.