Bob Boyd, former National Champion, loses battle with Leukemia

Bob Boyd
PGA of America
Bob Boyd following his win in the 1988 PGA Professional National Championship at Pinehurst Resort.
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PGA of America

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Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 | 3:32 p.m.

Former PGA Professional National Champion Bob Boyd of Wilmington, N.C., died Feb. 21, after a five-year battle with leukemia. Boyd had undergone a third bone marrow transplant in mid-January at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill, but his body rejected it. He was 55.

His wife, Pam, posted the following notice, Feb. 21, on her husband’s caringbridge.org journal page:

"It is with Great Joy that I tell you that Robert McLean Boyd Jr. took his last breath on this earth at 8:00 a.m. this morning. I believe there was a tee time that he was trying to make. McLean & I along with the bunch of fabulous family members and friends that came up had a wonderful last night with him. He rested very well, as did we, at his bedside thanking him for the wonderful life that he provided for us. We will be forever grateful that we were blessed with Bob Boyd and that God chose us to be his Earthly family."

Boyd was the most prolific PGA of America playing professional of the Carolinas PGA Section, winning 26 individual and 20 team major Section championships and seven Section Player of the Year titles. A graduate of the University of Maryland, who turned professional in 1977, Boyd was elected to PGA of America membership in 1980.

"Bob Boyd represented the consummate competitor in everything he did," said Carolinas PGA Section President Karl Kimball of Hillsborough, N.C. "He leaves us with 26 CPGA major championships and seven player of the year titles. The Carolinas PGA Section mourns the loss of Bob and extends to his family the deepest of sympathy. We are grateful for the memories and achievements that Bob has left us with but the void that is left behind will never be filled."

Boyd competed in 20 PGA Professional National Championships, capturing the 1988 title in his home state. He defeated fellow Carolinian Rick Morton on the second hole of a playoff at legendary Pinehurst No. 2. Boyd went on to post five top-10 and 11 top-25 performances in the National Championship.

"Bob competed in life like he did on the golf course," said Carolinas PGA Executive Director Ron Schmid. "He never wanted to lose, and he applied that spirit in fighting this disease. He was the greatest playing professional ever to wear the Carolinas PGA logo."

Boyd extended his professional career by competing on the European Senior Tour, winning the 2005 Open de Espana Senior. He registered 15 top-10s and finished four seasons in the top 30 on the Order of Merit on that Tour.

Known for accurate driving and exceptional iron play, Boyd was inducted into the Carolinas PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame in February 2008 and the Section’s Player of the Year award was named in his honor. A fierce competitor with an outgoing personality, Boyd played in 10 PGA Championships and five U.S. Opens. He made the cut in four PGA Championships and was the low PGA Club Professional on each occasion. He competed on the PGA Tour from 1983-84, with his best finish a share of sixth in the 1983 Houston Open.

Boyd recorded his career-best round of 59 in 2001 at Pine Valley Country Club in his hometown of Wilmington. He also made 11 career holes-in-one.

First diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia early in February 2006, Boyd underwent a successful bone marrow transplant procedure that June and reached full remission by the following year. He returned to tournament golf on a limited basis in 2007 and received what he described on his Caringbridge website page as a "a second mini-transplant" that allowed him to resume a full European Seniors Tour schedule in 2008.

He competed in his second Senior PGA Championship in May 2010 at Colorado Golf Club, with his son, McLean, serving as caddie. He finished tied for 69th and had remained as confident as ever about his comeback.

"When I look back upon the past several years, I feel like I was certainly saved for a reason," Boyd said at the time. "If I can’t come back and play well, then I have no excuses.

"It meant everything to me to get back and play. I always enjoy the competition. I may have a business management degree from the University of Maryland, but I have always been in love with golf."

Chest tumors were discovered during a doctor’s visit in August 2010, a couple weeks after Boyd competed in the Senior British Open at Carnoustie. After receiving a stem-cell transplant on Jan. 12, he remained under treatment in Chapel Hill. Boyd was diagnosed with HVGD (host-versus-graft-disease) on Feb. 18.

Boyd is survived by his wife Pam and son, McLean. A visitation is scheduled Thursday, Feb. 24, at 12 p.m., at Coble-Ward-Smith Funeral Home in Wilmington, N.C., followed by a Celebration of Life ceremony at 1 p.m.