Lee Elder, the first Black golfer to play at The Masters back in 1975, died at the age of 87 on Monday.
Because of Elder, other Black golfers could participate in some of the world’s biggest golf tournaments. Five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods was able to win those tournaments because of Elder, for example.
Golfers and athletes from other sports showed respect to Elder after the news broke of his death on Monday. Jack Nicklaus, who won the Masters that year in 1975, honored Elder on Twitter:
At the 2021 Masters, Elder joined Nicklaus and Gary Player as honorary starters at the ceremonial first tee. It was the first time Elder participated in this annual tradition. Player also honored Elder on Twitter.
Elder was a four-time PGA Tour winner after he turned professional in 1959. He won his first tour event in 1974 at the Monsanto Open, which is how he was able to qualify for the 1975 Masters. However, he competed in his first major tournament in 1966 at the U.S. Open. His last major tournament was in 1984 at the PGA Championship, and he didn’t make the cut. He officially retired in 2005, but his last victory was in 1988 on the Senior Tour.
Harold Varner III, currently on the PGA Tour, posted a video on Monday explaining how significant Elder was to his golf career:
Elder impacted athletes from other sports as well. Tennis legend Billie Jean King, who was the first openly gay tennis player, honored Elder on Twitter. NBA star Steph Curry also wrote a lengthy post expressing his gratitude to the late Elder.
Tiger Woods has yet to post on social media about Elder’s passing, but since Woods won his first Masters in 1997, he has expressed how much of a hero Elder has been to him.
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