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The Masters: A Profile of Honorary Starter Lee Elder, the First Black Man to Enter the Tournament |  Golf news


A look at the life and career of Lee Elder, the first black man to star in The Masters, who will be among the honorary starters at Augusta National on Thursday morning; watch The Masters live on Sky Sports The Masters from 2 p.m. Thursday

Last updated: 06/04/21 17:01 pm

Lee Elder was present at Augusta National last year and will be back on the first tee this year

In 1975, Lee Elder became the first black man to star in The Masters and he will be returning to Augusta National this year.

At 86, Elder will be one of three honorary starters at the 85th Masters on Thursday morning, alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Fred Ridley, president of the Augusta National Golf Club, confirmed Elder’s role on the first tee in an announcement ahead of the 84th Masters last November when he also revealed that a Lee Elder scholarship was to be created.

Two Elder name scholarships will be awarded each year to a player who is on the men’s golf team at Paine College, a historically black college and university in Augusta, and one to a player on the new, funded women’s team. by the golf club.

The Masters: A Profile of Honorary Starter Lee Elder, the First Black Man to Enter the Tournament |  Golf news

Elder and Fred Ridley, president of Augusta National Golf, on the first tee last November

After learning of his invitation last November, Elder said: “The opportunity to win an invitation to the Masters and make it to that first tee was my dream and for it to come true in 1975 remains one of the greatest highlights. of my career and my life.

“So being invited back to the first tee once again to join Jack and Gary for next year’s Masters means the world to me.”

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Elder was born in Dallas on July 14, 1934, the youngest of eight children, but then moved to Los Angeles to live with his aunt after his father died in World War II and his mother three months later.

He didn’t play a full 18-hole round until he was 16 and worked in pro shops, locker rooms, and as a caddy, as well as push-ups, before being drafted into the military in 1959, where he had the opportunity to play. golf regularly thanks to its colonel who is passionate about golf.

After being released from the military in 1961, he joined the United Golf Association Tour for Black Players and was very successful, winning 18 of 22 tournaments during a stretch, although the prize money was low.

The Masters: A Profile of Honorary Starter Lee Elder, the First Black Man to Enter the Tournament |  Golf news

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Elder attended PGA Tour qualifying school in 1967 after raising enough money and getting his tour card for 1968 after finishing ninth of 122 players.

He was 40th on the silver list in his rookie season with his best performance a playoff loss to Jack Nicklaus at the American Golf Classic.

Elder was invited by Player to participate in the South African PGA Championship in 1971, an important event as it was the first integrated tournament in the country’s history, with the South African government agreeing not to submit it to the usual requirements of segregation as part of its apartheid policy.

The Masters: A Profile of Honorary Starter Lee Elder, the First Black Man to Enter the Tournament |  Golf news

Elder arrives at Augusta National for a practice round before the 1975 Masters

He won the first of his four PGA Tour victories at the Monsanto Open in 1974, beating England’s Peter Oosterhuis in a play-off, earning him an invitation to the Masters the following year.

It was the first time an African American had qualified for The Masters since the tournament began in 1934 and Elder received a substantial amount of hate mail, including death threats, prior to the tournament. He also rented two houses in Georgia and moved between the two so no one would know where he resided.

Making his Augusta National debut at the age of 40, Elder carded rounds of 74 and 78 to miss the cup, but was well received over the course, later saying, “Every green I walked on, the applause was just great. . I mean every one of those people shouted, “Come on Lee! Good luck Lee!” “

The Masters: A Profile of Honorary Starter Lee Elder, the First Black Man to Enter the Tournament |  Golf news

Elder starts the first hole of the 1975 Masters

He would go on to make five more consecutive appearances in The Masters from 1977 to 1981 with a better result with a 17th tie in 1979.

The year 1979 also saw Elder become the first African-American to qualify for the Ryder Cup – he had earned his last two PGA Tour victories in 1978 – and he went on to claim eight Senior PGA Tour victories from 1984 to 1988 before retiring from professional golf. in 1990.

He has been at the Masters regularly since he quit playing and early Thursday morning he will take his place among the Masters legends off the first tee at Augusta National.

The Masters: A Profile of Honorary Starter Lee Elder, the First Black Man to Enter the Tournament |  Golf news

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