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Black Golf Trailblazer, Lee Elder, Dead at 87

Photo Courtesy Lee Elder Foundation — November 2020: Lee Elder being honored at the 2020 Masters Tournament

Lee Elder, the first Black golfer to play in the Masters, is dead at the age of 87.

The PGA Tour announced his passing on its official Twitter Monday, noting that this past April he was honored for his accomplishments at Augusta National, and his legacy will surely live on.

No official cause of death was listed, but Elder had been reportedly in poor health in recent years. During his appearance at the Masters in April he wore a visible oxygen tube. The Tour said he died early Sunday in Escondido, California.

His contemporary, and one of the greatest golfers to ever walk the greens, Jack Nicklaus responded to the death on Twitter writing, "Lee was a good player, but most important, a good man who was very well respected by countless people. The game of golf lost a hero in Lee Elder.''

A native Texan, Elder did not play a full round of 18 holes until he was 16 and learned the game while caddying when most courses were segregated. Following his history-making turn at the formerly all-white Masters, which he qualified for by winning the Monsanto Open, he notched three more career PGA wins. In 1979 he became the first African American to qualify for play in the Ryder Cup.

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