Tributes paid to golf trailblazer Lee Elder

Lee Elder

Tributes are pouring in for golf great Lee Elder who has passed away at the age of 87.

Elder made history in 1975 when he became the first black man to play in The Masters. Earlier this year, he featured as part of the opening ceremony for the most recent edition of the tournament, taking his place alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player on the first tee on the first morning.

The four-time PGA Tour winner's cause of death has not been confirmed.

Announcing the news on social media, the PGA Tour said "his legacy will surely live on".

Eighteen-time major champion Nicklaus took to social media to hail Elder as a "hero".

"Lee Elder was a pioneer, and in so many ways," he added. "Yes, he was the first black golfer to play in the Masters Tournament, but that simply underlined the hard work Lee put in to further the cause of everyone who has a dream to play on the PGA TOUR and perhaps thinks there were too many barriers before them. 

"It was wonderful that the Masters Tournament and Augusta National paid a well-deserved tribute to Lee by inviting him to be an Honorary Starter on this last Masters. 

"That morning, you could see the joy in Lee’s face, and Gary Player and I were honoured to enjoy that moment with him. That memory will remain special for so many, including me, for many years to come.

"Lee was a good player, but most important, a good man who was very well respected by countless people."

Current PGA Tour star Harold Varner III added: "Look out for the ones coming behind you. Lee Elder made an incredible contribution to the game and made history because of his talent, not just because he was African-American. I’m fortunate to have had the chance to learn from him."

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