AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The chairman of Augusta National said Lee Elder blazed a trail when he came here in 1975.
Elder says today was one of his most emotional experiences ever.
Lee Elder on the first tee at Augusta National. He didn’t hit a shot. He took a stand. He’s spent a lifetime doing that.
“I certainly hope that the things that I have done have inspired a lot of young black players and they will continue on with it,” said Elder.
Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player have nine Masters Championships. And there they were cheering and choking back tears for the man who has none.
Player remembers trying to get his friend to compete in a segregated South Africa in the 1960’s.
“I had to go to my president and get permission for Lee Elder to come and play in our PGA. Quite sad,” said Player.
Elder won four times on the PGA tour. Off the course, he endured heckling and death threats. But not here. Not when he broke the Masters color barrier in 1975.
“Every tee and every green that I walked on I got tremendous ovations,” said Elder.
More ovations on Thursday. The 86-year old getting the 85th Masters underway. A tournament patron told us what he hopes this moment means.
“We’re all important. And we have all been important to the game of golf in the U.S. Whether we play or build the course or caddy. We’ve all been important. That’s one thing they need to take away,” said a patron at Augusta National.
Elder says he is not finished yet. He says he will continue to work hard to help black golfers go pro.