There were some moving scenes in Augusta on the first day of Masters 2021.
Lee Elder, who was the first black player to participate in the world-famous golf tournament, has joined former champions Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus as honorary starter.
Elder made his masters debut in 1975 and recorded a best 17th finish in 1979 in six appearances.
Honorary starters are a tradition many eagerly await as the present salutes its past and recognizes the greats that have come before them.
Elder, 86, is the first honorary starter added to the ceremony since Player in 2012. Nicklaus struck his first honorary tee shot in 2010 and Arnold Palmer competed until his death in 2016.
“I hope I’m not crying,” Elder said ahead of time. “But I’m sure it will happen. With my friends and family around me, it will be much easier.
News of the invitation was announced in November and Elder revealed Tiger Woods was among the first to congratulate him, while NBA star Steph Curry posted a video thanking him for the legacy he left. and to “ lead the way and overcome so many obstacles ”.
And Player paid tribute to his friend’s courage.
“Lee Elder was a very brave man,” he said.
“In 1969, I invited him to South Africa in the midst of apartheid to play in our PGA. He played well.
“And he’s given a lot of black youth a lot of encouragement for the sport in the future.
“We had a lot of black players playing on our Tour when we were young – Charlie Sifford was another.
“Think about it – what Lee Elder, Charlie and the other black golfers did inspired Tiger Woods like his father did.
“And how do you explain the role Tiger Woods played in this great game?”
“Bigger galleries, better TV ratings, higher prizes, etc.” – so nice to see.
“I can’t wait to be with you, Lee. You don’t hit the ball very far anymore, but I know you’ll hit it to death straight from the first tee.
“We have the privilege of being a part of the greatest game that has ever existed. It’s a sport you make friends, it’s a sport you travel, and it lasts like no other sport. Take care of yourself.”