Lee Elder, 1st Black golfer to play Masters, dies at 87

Lee Elder, credited with breaking racial barriers as the first Black golfer to play in the Masters tournament, died Sunday, The Associated Press reported.

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Elder had been in declining health and had most recently been seen in photographs wearing an oxygen tube on his face. No cause of death was immediately reported, per the Associated Press.

Elder broke into golf in the 1960s and 1970s, playing the Masters for the first time in 1975. He qualified that year after winning a tournament in Pensacola, Florida, but said he considered whether he should accept the invitation to the Masters because of the negative reaction to his win, CNN reported.

Tributes to Elder appeared on Twitter from fellow golfers and fans. Golf legend Jack Nicklaus said on the social media site, “Yes, he was the first (B)lack golfer to play in @TheMasters, but that simply underlined the hard work Lee put in to further the cause of everyone who has a dream to play on the @PGATOUR and thinks there were too many barriers before them.”

Elder went on to become the first Black man to represent the United States Ryder cup team in 1979, CNN reported.

Last April, the Masters honored Elder by having him join Nicklaus and Gary Player for the ceremonial opening tee shots, the Associated Press reported.