Golf’s first Black professional who paved the way for Tiger Woods
How did you go from being a caddie to winning the British Open?
I had been working as a caddie since I was 18 and it was the hardest thing I ever did. It was only at 28 that I started competing in tournaments and I did not get my first win until 31.
When you did have a successful year, what did it mean to you?
The opportunity to be associated with Lee Trevino because he had come through the same background. He was a great friend and a mentor, so there was a big connection, just like it is with Tiger Woods.
Did you ever feel you were being sidelined in terms of recognition?
I thought of myself as a Black player and was honoured. But the real breaking point for me was when the tours me disappeared because of the civil rights movement. When I started doing international tournaments I was being discriminated against because the tours had new owners.
What did your teammates think about it?
I know a lot of Asian and African-American players who were at a disadvantage because they did not get the exposure from the tours. I would say they were more active in protesting.
Do you see more Black players coming through?
I think we are seeing an emergence. There is a hunger and the discipline is there. Of course, every tournament has many excellent players but only one rises to the top but I think there is a movement going on with more players, mainly because they want to give something back to the game. They want to be a role model.
Where would you like to go from here?
There is always a future, and I still have three more majors to play.