Colleen Walker, a nine-time winner on the LPGA Tour, including the 1997 du Maurier Classic major championship, has been named captain of the PING Junior Solheim Cup U.S. Team.
“I’m excited about this challenge,” Walker said. “It’s an honor to be asked to fulfill this position and coach the best young lady golfers in the country.
“Obviously, I’m not going to be working with their golf swings,” she explained. “As captain, my role will be to motivate the players and strategize how to compete as a team. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity.”
John A. Solheim, chairman and CEO of PING, the leading global manufacturer of custom-built golf equipment that sponsors the event, extended the invitation to Walker to become captain.
“Colleen brings a wealth of talent and experience to the captaincy,” Solheim said. “She is an accomplished player, wife, mother and dedicated professional whose career I’ve followed closely over the past 20 years.”
The PING Junior Solheim Cup, which features the 12 best female golfers (ages 12-18) from the United States against the top 12 junior girls from Europe, will be held Sept. 6-7, 2005, at The Bridgewater Club outside Indianapolis. The event immediately precedes The Solheim Cup at nearby Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel Sept. 9-11.
The United States and Europe are tied at one victory each in PING Junior Solheim Cup competition.
Walker, who underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments last year for breast cancer, is playing her 22nd year on the LPGA Tour. In addition to her nine Tour victories, she won the 2002 Hy-Vee Classic Women’s Senior Golf Tour event in her first attempt on the senior circuit.
Walker considers winning the 1988 Vare Trophy her single most important accomplishment in golf. The Vare Trophy is awarded annually to the LPGA professional with the lowest scoring average in at least 70 rounds of tour golf. Walker earned the title with a 71.26 scoring average. The year 1988 also saw Walker finish second in the Kraft Nabisco Championship and third in the U.S. Women’s Open Championship.
“You have to be a consistent player to win the Vare Trophy, and that year was my most consistent on Tour,” she said.
Last year, Walker was inducted into the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame.
“To have a community where you have lived recognize you for what you have accomplished in sports is a special experience,” she said.
Walker graduated from Florida State University in 1978 and has been inducted into that university’s Hall of Fame as well. She has been nominated to the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, with induction pending this fall.
At 18, Walker was named the 1974 Palm Beach Post Athlete and Player of the Year for her amateur golfing performances. Two years later, she won the All-State (Florida) Golf Award.
Walker and her husband, Ron, have a 7-year-old son, Tyler, both of whom are accompanying her on the LPGA Tour this year.