Charlie Sifford once caddied in his youth for 35¢, In 1967 he took home $20,000
By: Josh Morris – On this day in 1967 Charlie Sifford, the first African-American to play on the PGA tour, won his first official PGA Tour event at the Greater Hartford Open. This was the first year they changed the name of the event from the Insurance City Open to the GHO. Sifford Took home $20,000 for the first prize and he finished the tournament seven underpar for a -7 ,64.
He was 45 at the time, and was heralded as the Jackie Robinson of golf. In fact, in 1947, the same year Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, he had given Sifford advice not to quit in spite of the hostility he would encounter on the PGA Tour. With that guidance, Sifford broke through and made history.
Overall Charlie Sifford finished 12 strokes under par and beat out runner up, Steve Opperman a 25 year old pro from San Francisco by one stroke. Sifford played with a cool lead most of the day and Opperman’s only chance to tie was at the 16th, where he squandered in opportunity by missing the green after a nice drive. Finishing two strokes back of Sifford was South Africa’s Gary Player and a stroke behind him was Doug Ford and Raymond Floyd.
“If you try hard enough…anything can happen”
— Charlie Sifford
Along with being the first African American to play in the PGA, he is also the first to be inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame. Sifford passed away in February of 2015 and sadly his name has been in the news for unfortunate reasons. Sifford’s son, Craig and his ex-wife were sentenced to 36 months in prison August 18th for stealing from the late golfing star’s estate.
Josh Morris is the Editor of Golf History Today. A proud USGA Volunteer and golf enthusiast. In his free time he enjoys being a weekend caddie as well as playing as much as he can.