NEW YORK (AP) – Charlie Sifford, who only wanted a chance to play and broke the colour barrier in golf as the first PGA Tour member, died Tuesday night, the PGA of America said.
Sifford, who recently had suffered a stroke, was 92. Details of his death and funeral arrangements were not immediately available.
PGA of America President Derek Sprague called Sifford “an uncommon and faithful servant.”
“His love of golf, despite many barriers in his path, strengthened him as he became a beacon for diversity in our game,” Sprague said. “By his courage, Dr. Sifford inspired others to follow their dreams. Golf was fortunate to have had this exceptional American in our midst.”
A proud man who endured racial taunts and threats, Sifford set modest goals and achieved more than he imagined.
Sifford challenged the Caucasian-only clause and the PGA rescinded it in 1961. He won the Greater Hartford Open in 1967 and the Los Angeles Open in 1969. He also won the 1975 Senior PGA Championship, five years before the Champions Tour was created.
His career was fully recognised in 2004 when he became the first black inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Last November, President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the only other golfers who received that honour.