Wednesday, February 4

RIP Charlie Sifford, Golf Pioneer

CHARLIE SIFFORD, THE MAN WHO BROKE the color barrier on the PGA Tour in the 1960s and recently received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, died on Tuesday night. He was 92.

"I just wanted to play, and they couldn’t stop me, that’s all," Sifford said a few years ago.

Sifford won twice—at Hartford in 1967 and the L.A. Open in 1969 in a sudden-death playoff with Harold Henning. But he never received an invitation to play in the Masters. In 1975 Lee Elder was the first black man to play at Augusta. Sifford had cracked open the door.

Three decades later, along came Tiger Woods, on the short list of the game's greatest players.

"He has my respect and my gratitude for the sacrifices he made to open the doors to this great game to people of color," Woods said.

Sifford was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004.

Finally, on a personal note, I had dinner with Charlie Sifford and Jack Fleck a few years ago at a Champions Tour event in North Carolina. That's a great memory.

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