Lee Elder, the first black golfer to compete in The Masters at Augusta in 1975 and champion of racial equality, dies at the age of 87

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  • Lee Elder dies at age 87 – cause of death not given
  • Elder will be remembered as the first black player to compete in The Masters
  • Elder won four tournaments in his career as a player on the PGA Tour.

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Racial justice champion Lee Elder, who in 1975 became the first black man to compete at the Masters, has died at the age of 87, the PGA Tour said on Monday.

Cause of death was not given.

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Alder made his historic Masters debut in 1975 but it would be more than a decade later in 1990 before Augusta National – one of the most elite clubs in the world – would welcome Ron Townsend as its first black member.

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Lee Elder – pictured playing in the 1975 Masters competition, where he made history in Augusta as the first black man to play in the event – has died at the age of 87

Elder pictured at Augusta in April 2021, where he was invited to be an honorary starter

Elder pictured at Augusta in April 2021, where he was invited to be an honorary starter

During his career, Elder won four events on the PGA Tour, including the 1974 Monsanto Open, which qualified him for the following year’s Masters, and later eight wins over the PGA Tour Champions.

In 2020, Augusta National announced that it would celebrate Elder by adding him as an honorary starter at this year’s Masters alongside golf greats Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Elder, who had limited mobility, was driven in a golf cart to the first hole of Augusta National last April, where he was greeted warmly but didn’t hit a tee shot.

“For me and my family, I think it was one of the most emotional experiences I’ve ever seen or been involved in,” Elder said after the ceremony.

‘It’s definitely something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.’

Elder as pictured with Tiger Woods after his first win at The Masters in 1997

Elder as pictured with Tiger Woods after his first win at The Masters in 1997

In his career, Elder won four events on the PGA Tour and eight events on the PGA Tour Champions

In his career, Elder won four events on the PGA Tour and eight events on the PGA Tour Champions

In addition to announcing Elder as an honorary starter, Augusta National said it would establish a scholarship in his name at Paine College, a private, historically black college in Augusta.

Two scholarships will be awarded annually to a man and a woman on the golf team.

Elder qualified for the Masters for five consecutive years from 1977 to 1981, his best performance coming in 1979 when he finished 17th.

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