ESCONDIDO, Calif. (AP) — Golf pioneer Lee Elder has died at the age of 87.
"Lee was a good player, but most important[ly], a good man who was very well respected by countless people. The game of golf lost a hero in Lee Elder," 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus said on Twitter in reaction to hearing Elder's passing.
Elder broke down racial barriers as the first Black golfer to play in the Masters and he paved the way for Tiger Woods and others to follow.
Elder made history in 1975 at Augusta National, which had held an all-white tournament until he received an invitation after winning the Monsanto Open.
Elder missed the cut but forever stamped himself as a groundbreaking figure in a sport never been known for racial tolerance.
Twenty-two years later, Woods became the first Black golfer to don a green jacket, the Associated Press reported.
The PGA Tour said Elder died early Sunday in Escondido, California.
He had been in poor health and wore an oxygen tube beneath his nose when he appeared at the opening of the Masters in April.
"Lee Elder was a pioneer in so many ways. Yes, he was the first black golfer to play in, but that simply underlined the hard work Lee put in to further the cause of everyone who has a dream to play on the and thinks there were too many barriers before them," Nicklaus said.