AUGUSTA, Ga. – A handful of current and past Masters participants made their way to the first tee early Thursday morning at Augusta National to watch history. Among them was Cameron Champ, one of only four black members on the PGA Tour, who was amazed when Lee Elder, the first black player to tee off in the Masters, started this 85th edition as an honorary starter alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
« It was just amazing for them to realize that Lee is the first African American to play in the Masters, » said Champ afterwards on the track. « Just for the Black Community and Black Golfers and Minority Golfers in general, this is a big step in the right direction. And I know it meant a lot to him, especially his family. I know his health is not very good right now, but I know he wouldn’t miss this for the world.
Champ said he had the opportunity to sit down and speak to Elder on Wednesday, and although Champ is only 25, he was the most open-minded Players on tour for current social and racial issues. Champ said Elder reminds him of his late grandfather, Mack, who recorded the game in Texas and later taught his grandson to play.
« Lee is just one amazing loving guy, much like my grandfather, « said Champ. » He just has so much love and care for others even though they endured a lot when they were young and they went the opposite way than most people gedac ht would have happened. « For me he is someone I look up to, who I try to take things from, learn and find out my true identity as a man. … My grandfather, these were the guys he saw and the guys I know he looked up to in the game.
« Of course it would have been amazing if my grandfather were still alive to do that But for Lee it was just amazing and a great moment to show the African American golfers the way and to pave the way. «
FROM Golf Channel Digital
BY Brentley Romine
BY Ryan Lavner
Lee Elder joined Jack Jacklaus and Gary Player shortly after sunrise on Thursday in Augusta National to kick off the 85th Masters with a historic ceremony.
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