(SportsNetwork.com) - World Golf Hall of Fame member and golf pioneer Charlie Sifford passed away at the age of 92.
Sifford was the first African American to join the PGA Tour in 1960. He was also the first African American inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 2004.
"Charlie Sifford was a pioneer in our sport, breaking down barriers and paving the way for everyone able to compete at the highest level to succeed on the PGA Tour," PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said. "Charlie's induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame put an exclamation point on a remarkable career, where he proved to be a tenacious competitor and an outstanding player. We truly mourn his passing."
Along with being a World Golf Hall of Fame member, Sifford was honored by President Barack Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. Sifford joined Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus as the only golfers to earn that distinguished honor.
"On the tour, Charlie was sometimes banned from clubhouse restaurants. Folks threatened him, shouted slurs from the gallery," Obama said during the ceremony. "Because golf can be a solitary sport, Charlie didn't have teammates to lean on. But he did have his lovely wife Rose, and he had plenty of guts and grit and that trademark cigar."
Sifford, who was born in 1922, served in World War II. He was discharged in 1946 and shortly thereafter was competing in tournaments on the United Golf Association. He won 11 times over the next 14 years.
He won the right to compete on the PGA Tour in 1960 and went on the win a pair of events - the 1967 Greater Hartford Open and the 1969 Los Angeles Open. Sifford also won a Champions Tour event in 1980, the year that tour was founded.
Tiger Woods said that his father would have never taken up the game if it hadn't been for what Sifford had done.
"Terrible loss for golf and me personally. My grandfather is gone and we all lost a brave, decent and honorable man. I'll miss u Charlie," Wood said on his Twitter account.
Among the numerous other honors bestowed on Sifford was an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews as a Doctor of Laws. He received that honor in 2006.
PGA of America president Derek Sprague said: "It is with great sadness that the world of golf has lost a faithful ambassador in PGA Member Dr. Charles L. Sifford. His love of golf, despite many barriers in his path, strengthened him as he became a beacon for diversity in our game. By his courage, Dr. Sifford inspired others to follow their dreams. The PGA of America extends its thoughts and prayers to Dr. Sifford's family. Golf was fortunate to have had this exceptional American in our midst."