Lee Elder, the first black golfer to play in The Masters, has died at the age of 87.
Born in Dallas, Texas, Lee Elder was the youngest of eight siblings and went on to have a glittering career as a professional golfer that included multiple Tour victories and a Ryder Cup appearance.
His journey in the game began because one of his brothers was a caddie. Elder got a job at the golf club collecting stray balls and followed his brother in becoming a caddie when he was big enough.
He started playing on the United Golf Association Tour, which was an African-American Tour away from the PGA Tour as black golfers couldn’t compete on the main Tour until 1961. Seven years later he joined the PGA Tour after raising enough money for Q-School in 1967.
Despite playing on the PGA Tour, he endured a challenging time that included suffering from racism. Elder was once penalised during a tournament in Memphis, Tennessee after a spectator took his ball from the fairway. He also had to change in the car park in a Florida tournament as black people were not allowed in the clubhouse.
Elder was able to show his golfing talents on Tour and went on to become the first ever black man to compete at The Masters in 1975 after winning his maiden PGA Tour title at the 1974 Monsanto Open at Pensacola in Florida. He was 40 when he made his Masters debut and he would miss the cut but did manage a T17 and T19 in six Masters appearances.
Tiger Woods acknowledged that Lee Elder was an inspiration for his career. “Lee Elder meant a lot to me because he was the first. He was the one that I looked up to and because of what he did, I was able to play and to live my dream,” Woods said.
At the 2021 Masters, 46 years on from his tournament debut, he would become an honory starter along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Elder was not well enough to hit a drive but received rapturous applause from fans on-site and watching on from around the world.
Elder won a total of four PGA Tour titles and had eight Senior PGA Tour victories by the end of his career. He also won the 1971 Nigerian Open and 1984 Jamaican Open. He also appeared for Team USA at the 1979 Ryder Cup, where the USA won 17-11 at The Greenbrier. His best Major finishes were T11s at the 1974 PGA Championship and 1979 US Open.
Credit: Source link