Charlie Sifford, the first African American to play on the PGA Tour, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92, the PGA of America confirmed, according to The Guardian.
“His love of golf, despite many barriers in his path, strengthened him as he became a beacon for diversity in our game,” PGA of America President Derek Sprague said of the pioneer’s passing. “By his courage … Sifford inspired others to follow their dreams. Golf was fortunate to have had this exceptional American in our midst.”
Sifford helped desegregate the PGA in 1962 when he was allowed to pay on the tour. He then proceeded to win two PGA Tours in 1967 and 1969, The Guardian notes.
Golfing great Tiger Woods paid his own tributes to Sifford, whom he called his “grandfather.” As The Guardian notes, Woods often mentioned Sifford as a pioneer who helped made his own golfing possible. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that without Charlie, and the other pioneers who fought to play, I may not be playing golf,” Woods told AP in 2014. “My pop likely wouldn’t have picked up the sport, and maybe I wouldn’t have, either.”
Sifford continued to be a pioneer even after he wound up his career, becoming the first African American to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004. He was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2014, one of only three golfers to receive that award.
Read more at The Guardian.