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Charlie Sifford, the Jackie Robinson of golf, got his first PGA win in Hartford

Special guest Jacques Slade takes us to the site of Charlie Sifford’s first-ever win on the PGA Tour in 1967 at the Greater Hartford Open at the Wethersfield Country Club in the YouTube video above.

The story on YouTube is told in Dr. Sifford’s own words from his memoir. As the first black golfer to earn a PGA Tour card, Charlie Sifford forever changed the game. And his win in 1967 in Hartford at the age of 45 with a final round of 64 was the culmination of a lifetime of perseverance and determination.

The Travelers Championship held a Charles Sifford Centennial Celebration on Tuesday at the Wethersfield Country Club — where he made his historic win. Proceeds from the event went toward the Dr. Charles L. Sifford Scholarship, which helps cover college tuition for students who attend a historically Black college or university, or for minority students focusing their education on a golf management program.

The Sifford Central Celebration was held on what would have been Sifford’s 100th birthday. He died in 2015. Sifford is the honorary chairperson for this year’s Travelers’ Championship tournament.

“Because of everything that Charlie represents and stood for, we believe it’s important to honor his name and memory, especially during this centennial year of his birth,” said Nathan Grube, Tournament Director of the Travelers Championships.

Sifford’s pioneering efforts created a pathway for all minority golfers to develop successful careers in professional golf.

“The Sifford family is immensely proud and honored that the Travelers Championship is recognizing my father, Dr. Charles L. Sifford, with an exhibition tournament in his name,” said Charles Sifford, Jr. “This tournament is an example of his vision of diversity and inclusion by the golf establishment. The Greater Hartford Open in 1967 was his first PGA Tour victory. This recognition, and others planned during the week, are especially noteworthy during his centennial celebration year honoring my father’s contributions as an African American golfer. We sincerely appreciate all the sponsors for continuing to honor his legacy.”

Sifford was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and became the first Black golfer to play on the PGA Tour. In addition to his victory at Wethersfield Country Club, he also won a Tour event at the Los Angeles Open in 1969, then won a tournament on the PGA Tour Champions in 1980. Sifford was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004 and was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2014.

“Charlie was a trailblazer who holds a special place in the hearts of many golf fans, especially in Connecticut after he won here,” said Andy Bessette, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Travelers. “We want golf to be inclusive. We believe in and are committed to diversity in how we operate our company. Recognizing Charlie for all he did, not only in golf but in the pursuit of equality, speaks to that.”

Since 2009, the Collinsville Press has been providing award-winning coverage of sports and news in the Farmington Valley and across Connecticut.

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