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Al Balding dies aged 82

Al Balding, the first Canadian to win on the PGA Tour, passed away Sunday at the age of 82. The cause of death was reported as cancer.

Balding made history by winning the PGA Tour's Mayfair Open in 1955 and three titles -- the Miami Beach Open, West Palm Beach Open and Havana Invitational -- in 1957, when he finished sixth on the tour money list, the highest finish by any Canadian player to that point in time.

"Al was a champion of the Canadian golf community for over half a century," said Stephen Ross, the Royal Canadian Golf Association's Executive Director. "He has been a stalwart of the game and a tremendous representative of Canada. His death is a great loss to Canadian golf."

In 1955, the Toronto native also won the first of his four Canadian PGA Championship titles. He also won the Canadian PGA Match Play Championship four times. He also was named the Ontario Athlete of the Year in 1955 and 1957.

In 1968, Balding represented Canada at the World Cup of Golf, now known as the WGC-World Cup, where he was the individual low-scorer and teamed with George Knudson to win the prestigious team event. He played on the Canadian team in the World Cup every year from 1956 through 1970 except for 1962, 1965 and 1966.

Among his most memorable feats, however, was his victory in the 2000 Canadian PGA Seniors? Championship, which he won at age 76. He also was one of the 40 original seniors on the U.S. Senior Tour in the early 1980s.

Balding was born Apr. 29, 1924, in Toronto, and served in the Canadian Army in France and Germany during World War II in France and Germany. He became a professional golfer in 1950, and won his first two events on the Canadian Tour in 1952.

He was elected to the Canada Sports Hall of Fame in 1968, and was elected to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 1985.

He is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Moreen, and their two children, Alan and Erin.

August 1, 2006

 




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