Lee Elder, the legendary American golfer who was the first African American to compete at The Masters, has died at the age of 87.
Elder was an honorary starter at Augusta National this year alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
Despite being a four-time PGA Tour winner, Elder’s legacy is for his battle against exclusivity in the sport.
A leader against racial justice, Elder was finally able to break the barrier at Augusta National as the first Black golfer to play at The Masters in 1975, where he missed the cut.
Another significant achievement of Elder’s was becoming the first Black player to qualify for the US Ryder Cup team in 1979.
Away from the Tour, Elder fought against country clubs that excluded African-Americans as members, while founding the Lee Elder Scholarship Fund to provide financial aid to low-income men and women with ambitions to attend college.
Tiger Woods, born nine months after Elder made history with his first Masters appearance, would claim his first Green Jacket at the 1997 Masters.
And Elder was able to witness it live, underlining the significance of the experience: “You would have thought I was winning the golf tournament. To be there, to see what Tiger did, that meant the world to me.”
A statement from the PGA Tour read: “Lee Elder has passed away at the age of 87. In 1975, he made history as the first African American to compete in the Masters Tournament.
“Lee was honored this past April at Augusta National and his legacy will surely live on.”
Elder’s friend Renee Powell confirmed his passing in a Facebook post, writing: “Overnight, I was very saddened to hear of the death of my good friend Lee Elder. Lee had called me last week about doing a project together this summer.
“We actually joined our perspective Tours together after both winning the United Golfers Association (UGA) National in the same year.
“For those who don’t know, the UGA was an amateur body of African-American golfers that included divisions for women, men, junior boys and girls, and a professional division.
“They operated a series of tournaments during the era of racial segregation in the U.S.As the years went by, Lee and I were partners in the JC Penney Team Championship at Doral.
“This year, I was proudly standing next to the first tee at Augusta National when Lee was given Honorary Starter status alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to open the Masters.
“Thank goodness, Lee was finally recognised there! Please keep his wife, Sharon, in your prayers.”