The Masters for 2020 is still some time away – will be held from November 12-15, having been postponed from its usual April date due to the pandemic – but Gary Player wants his old friend, Lee Elder, to be one of the honorary starters for the Major at Augusta National.
The rescheduled 2020 Masters will take place without patrons or guests in attendance because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Alan Shipnuck of www.Golf.com, tweeted that Player said, “I’m sure he’ll hit it farther than Arnold did in his last few years.”aaa
Player has always loved to needle his old rival, Arnold Palmer. Of Elder, he says,"I’m sure he’ll hit it farther than Arnold did in his last few years."
— Alan Shipnuck (@AlanShipnuck) August 31, 2020
The 86-year-old Elder received a personal invitation from Player to participate in the 1971 South African PGA Championship in Johannesburg. It was the first integrated tournament in the country’s history throughout its struggles with apartheid.
Elder became the first African American to play in the Masters in 1975 and is said to have received a lot of hate mail in the period before the tournament. In 1979 he also became the first African American to qualify for play in the Ryder Cup.
At a time when a big section of America is fighting for social justice and equality, Elder, as an honorary member, would be a big move as he will become the first African American has featured as the honorary starter at the event.
Lee Elder, a four-time PGA Tour winner, has been a big spokesperson for social justice and set up the Lee Elder Scholarship Fund in 1974. In 1990, Elder spoke out against country clubs that still excluded African Americans from membership.