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Canadian golf great Dawn Coe-Jones dies at 56

Canada's Dawn Coe-Jones, on the first day of a Women's World Cup Of Golf at The Links at Fancourt Country Club in George, South Africa on Feb. 11, 2005. Canadian golfer Dawn Coe-Jones has died. She was 56.

Obed Zilwa/THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP

Dawn Coe-Jones, a member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame who helped blaze a trail for Canadian women on the pro tour, has died of cancer. She was 56.

Golf Canada said Saturday that Coe-Jones died at a hospice near her home in Tampa, Fla.

The native of Lake Cowichan, B.C., played on the LPGA Tour from 1984 to 2008. She won more than US$3.3 million on the circuit with three victories and 44 career top-10 finishes.

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The golf world took to social media Saturday to mourn Coe-Jones.

Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., called Coe-Jones a "great player & competitor & wonderful lady!" in a tweet.

Brantford, Ont., native David Hearn tweeted: "Very saddened to hear of the passing of Dawn Coe-Jones. She was a great player and role model for so many Canadians. You will be missed Dawn."

Former LPGA Tour pro A.J. Eathorne of Penticton, B.C., posted a photo collage of her and Coe-Jones on her Instagram account.

"A very sad day today as we say good bye to our dear friend Dawn Coe Jones," the caption read. "One of the most caring and wonderful women I have ever met. I am so lucky to have got to spend so many great times with her and her family. Love you always Miss Dawn."

"Just hearing of the incredibly sad news of the passing of LPGA member & Canadian legend Dawn Coe-Jones. Always a class act. RIP, my friend," said American golfer and broadcaster Dottie Pepper.

"So sad to hear the passing of LPGA Dawn Coe Jones. A true competitor, ambassador of the game. She will be missed #RIP," echoed Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam.

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Coe-Jones had an outstanding amateur career, scoring back-to-back wins in the B.C. Junior tournament in 1978 and '79 and the B.C. Amateur in 1982 and '83. She capped her 1983 season with the Canadian Amateur title and won NCAA all-American honours at Lamar University.

Her first LPGA win came at the Women's Kemper Open in 1992. She went on to claim the 1994 LPGA Palm Beach Classic and 1995 Tournament of Champions.

A fervent Montreal Canadiens fan, she savoured getting a Habs jersey with No. 1 on the back after winning the Tournament of Champions.

She was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 2003.

"I was totally caught off guard," Coe-Jones said at the time. "In fact, I had to make sure someone wasn't playing a trick on me. I am just thrilled and proud to be included in such good company."

A veteran of more than 20 Canadian Opens, Coe-Jones said she had learned to embrace playing at home.

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"Over the years I've learned that you just go out there and enjoy the atmosphere and feed off the fans," she said in 2006. "They are there to support you and want Canadians to do well."

Growing up in Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island, she worked as a teenager at March Meadows Golf Course in Honeymoon Bay.

"I drove an old Ford tractor, cutting grass and raking bunkers by hand," she recalled in an interview with Golf Canada magazine. "We didn't have the equipment they've got now."

She honed her golf game at March Meadows before heading to Lamar University, where she won a scholarship in her sophomore year.

Coe-Jones made her farewell appearance at the CN Canadian Open in 2008 with her trademark beaming smile despite finishing 14-over after two rounds and missing the cut.

Her best score ever was 63 at the Safeco Classic in 1998.

Coe-Jones' best chance to win her national Open was in 1993, when she was third behind Brandie Burton and Betsy King at London Hunt. She tied for fourth with Canadian Gail Graham in 1998 in Windsor, Ont.

"I feel very proud of my career," Coe-Jones said in 2008. "I wish everyone who was ever out here had that opportunity to walk up 18 and be the winner just once.

"It's a wonderful feeling to be the best in your field one time. I was lucky enough to have it three times."

She married Jimmy Jones in 1992 and their son James was born three years later.

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