‘He made history’: Groundbreaking PGA legend Lee Elder dead at 87

Golf fans received some upsetting news this week.

According to reports, PGA legend Lee Elder died on Monday at the age of 87.

“Met with thunderous applause”

In a statement, the PGA Tour noted that “he made history as the first African American to compete in the Masters Tournament” when he first did so in 1975.

Declaring that Elder’s “legacy will live on,” the organization recounted that he received an honor earlier this year at the Augusta National tournament.

“Elder joined Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus as honorary starters for the Masters,” the PGA tour added, explaining that the veteran golfer “was met with thunderous applause.”

At that time, Elder remarked: “For me and my family, I think it was one of the most emotional experiences that I have ever witnessed or been involved in.”

Following his 1974 Monsanto Open victory, the next year he became the first Black payer to be invited to attend the Masters. About six years ago, Elder described being subjected to death threats prior to playing in the historic tournament. The harassment became so severe, he said, that he was forced to move out of his home and live temporarily in a rental property.

“It was a pretty good round”

Despite the backlash, he said he was welcomed enthusiastically by spectators, recalling: “Every green I walked up on, the applause was just tremendous. I mean every one of them people shouted, ‘Go Lee! Good luck, Lee!”

He said he was initially plagued by nerves, explaining that he began shaking and “said a prayer” to make it through the tournament.

“What if I hook a drive or slice a drive into the woods?” he asked himself. “I just collected my thoughts as I approached the first drive and just kind of swung the club.”

In the end, those fears proved unfounded and he made par on the first hole. He noted that he left with the feeling that “it was a pretty good round” overall.

Golf Magazine published a tribute to the legend, asserting: “He was the kind of self-taught genius whose game was a perfect reflection of his one-of-a-kind upbringing: An orphan who learned golf from working various jobs around the game, who didn’t play a full round until he was 16 years old, before hardening his game in high-pressure money games.”

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