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Lee Elder - the man who broke Masters colour barrier - has died

Golfing trailblazer Lee Elder has died at the age of 87.  He was the first African American to p...



Lee Elder - the man who broke...
Golf

Lee Elder - the man who broke Masters colour barrier - has died

Golfing trailblazer Lee Elder has died at the age of 87. 

He was the first African American to play at The Masters in Augusta, and was an honorary starter at this year's event.

Elder won four PGA Tour tournaments - starting with the Monsanto Open in April of 1974, with his last coming in Westchester in 1978.

When Elder first played 18 holes at the age of 16, the PGA Tour was still eleven years away from lifting its block on people of colour becoming members.

He earned his tour card for the 1968 season, placing fourth on the money list that year and taking Jack Nicklaus to a playoff at the American Golf Classic.

It would not be until 1975 that Elder would break new ground by qualifying for The Masters.

"I think there was a sense of relief when I qualified," he said in 2015, "And what I mean by relief is that they were so happy because this was the one thing that could be taken away from the tournament when people talked about it – that no blacks had played in it.

“There were so many blacks who wanted to be a part of the Masters, but they didn’t know how to go about it, because no black had ever played there.

"I think that made a difference when the barrier fell.”

Elder spoke of how he was subject to death threats and frequent derogatory comments owing to him breaking down barriers in an extremely 'white' sport.

He was invited back to Augusta in 2021 to perform the ceremonial start of the tournament alongside Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Augusta chairman Fred Ridley invited Elder to perform the honour in November of 2020.

“He could hardly get the conversation out of his mouth,” Elder told Golf Digest earlier this year, “before I said, ‘Mr. Chairman, I’d be more than happy to do anything to be associated with Augusta National.’

"There were a whole lot of people they could have selected, and I’m sure there are people saying there are people more deserving than Lee Elder.

"But Fred is a wonderful, wonderful person, and he was the right person to do this.”

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