AUGUSTA, Ga. – On Monday, it was announced that Lee Elder, who in 1975 became the first Black player to compete in the Masters, would be an honorary starter in 2021. That prompted some to consider how long it might be until Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are extended the same invitation.
Woods, a five-time winner at Augusta National, was asked if he could envision serving as an honorary starter with Mickelson “30 years from now?”
“Thirty years from now? That’s a long time,” Woods said with a laugh. “The fact that I had an opportunity to watch Byron Nelson and Sam Snead tee off there, and to see even Jack [Nicklaus] and Arnold [Palmer] and Gary [Player], and now to have Lee start next year, whether it’s Phil and I down the road or whatever it may be, it’s up to the chairman, and it’s an honor; you start off the Masters.”
Nicklaus and Player have served as honorary starters since 2010 and 2012, respectively, and will continue the tradition on Thursday morning at the Masters.
Given their history at the Masters, it’s inevitable that Woods and Mickelson, a three-time winner at Augusta National, will find themselves sharing honorary starter duties. And it’s a given that their competitive rivalry will continue.
“Hopefully that will be us one day,” said Woods, “and I’ll be hitting bombs past him.”