By Andrew Both
AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Lee Elder was warmly welcomed at the Masters when he joined Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as a brand new honorary starter for the 2021 event that started at Augusta National on Thursday.
A superb solar had barely risen over the clubhouse when 86-year-old Elder, the primary Black man to compete within the Masters in 1975, was pushed to the primary tee in a golf cart as a brand new main season dawned.
Elder has restricted mobility and didn’t hit a tee shot.
Shortly after Elder, nine-times main winner Gary Player, sprightly as ever at 85, emerged from the clubhouse and hugged Nicklaus’s spouse Barbara.
He then ventured to the tee with six-times Masters champion and 18-times main winner Nicklaus, who wore a yellow sweater to fend off a slight chill within the crisp morning air.
A gallery of a number of hundred folks have been readily available, about the identical quantity who have been in attendance when the November Masters was performed formally with out paying spectators, although members and their friends, in addition to media, swelled the numbers.
“Today, Lee Elder will inspire us and make history,” stated Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley.
“Lee, it is my privilege to say, ‘you have the honors’.”
Elder acknowledged the nice and cozy applause, earlier than Ridley subsequently launched three-times Masters winner Player, who cut up the primary fairway with an outstanding drive that went an excellent 200 yards.
Nicklaus, 81 and never fairly as nimble as Player, additionally hit the green, although his swing was not as fluid and his drive was some 40 yards shorter than Player’s.
With that the eighty fifth Masters was formally underway.
Americans Michael Thompson and Hudson Swafford have been the primary pairing at 8 a.m. native time (1200 GMT).
Defending champion Dustin Johnson was due out at 10.30 a.m.
There is a slight probability of rain on Thursday, with the danger of unhealthy climate growing on Friday and Saturday.
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Toby Davis)