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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 237
T HIS week in 1974, Lee Elder won the Monsanto Open and became the first African-American to be invited to Augusta National to play in the Masters Tournament. Elder was 39 years old when he holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole to defeat England’s Peter Oosterhuis, recording his first win on the PGA Tour. “Baby, we did it, we finally did it,” Elder said on the phone to his wife, Rose. “We finally won.” Elder didn’t need much time to accept Augusta National’s invitation to play in the Masters, but abusive letters and death threats meant he had to rent two houses during the tournament. “I felt that once I got inside of the gates of the Masters things would certainly be nice and there would not be any problems,” Elder recalls. “I did not know what the circumstances were, so I rented two houses. I interchanged staying at each one so they wouldn’t know where I was because I had received so many threatening letters.” When Elder did enter Augusta’s gates for the first time, the press went into a frenzy, and the club had to organise a three-hour press conference. The Texan didn’t make the cut that year, but he returned to play the Masters a further five times and inspired the likes of Tiger Woods to pick up a golf club. “I think the hat goes off to not me, but to Lee Elder for paving the way here at the Masters,” Woods said after winning the 1997 Masters. Lee Elder might not be the most successful African-American to have played on the PGA Tour, and he wasn’t the first, either – that was Charlie Sifford. But Elder will always be the first to have earned an invitation to the Masters. E it happened this week in... 1974 • US President Richard Nixon hands over partial transcripts of Watergate tape recordings. • Jane Blalock wins LPGA Birmingham Golf Classic. Meanwhile, a lawsuit involving Blalock and the LPGA rages on after she was accused of replacing her marker incorrectly at the Bluegrass Invitational in 1972. • Australia’s soccer team defeats Uruguay 2-0 in a ‘friendly’ match as it prepares for its first ever World Cup in West Germany. Australian striker Ray Baartz is karate chopped by Uruguay’s Luis Garisto. Also making news this week in 1974 LEE ELDER QUALIFIES FOR THE MASTERS VIDEO: LEE ELDER AT THE 1975 MASTERS WORDS BY MICHAEL JONES
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