Mike Ogilvie: Golf’s first black professional dies aged 70

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Kenny Perry, 50, lost the 1993 Senior Open at Old Course in St Andrews by just one shot

Mike Ogilvie is considered golf’s first British black professional and a man who helped to pave the way for Tiger Woods.

Ogilvie was the first British black player to reach the senior level and went on to have a prolific career.

Ogilvie, who won 11 PGA Tour events, died aged 70 on Tuesday at a hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

“He was a gentleman of golf,” said seven-time US Open champion Nick Faldo.

“He was a pioneer on the European Tour of golf and on the American Tour of golf. What a story. I’ll be forever grateful for him.”

Ogilvie began playing golf in 1959 and started as a teacher. He played under the tutelage of a man who would become famous – Colin Montgomerie.

Ogilvie’s record Faldo 10 major titles: nine British Open wins; one Masters win

nine British Open wins; one Masters win Ogilvie 11 US Tour titles : five victories

: five victories PGA Tour wins: five triumphs

Five triumphs Ladies’ European Tour win : one

: one European Tour win: one Johnnie Walker Classic victory: one

One Walker Classic victory: one European Senior Open win: one

The Scot paid tribute to “a great golfer, a good person” and recalled the warmth he showed towards Montgomerie when they were playing together.

“He was a good teacher to me, a nice person to be around,” he said.

“There was something about Mike that made you realise when you were playing golf, he was genuinely interested in where you were going.

“We had no interaction when he was playing golf [around the world]. I played with him once, one day in St Andrews, and he won by one shot. I was four under, one shot back. I thought to myself this man is doing something right.”

Ogilvie, who started his career on the European Tour, gained an exemption when the number of black players in the Tour Tour changed from two to five at the start of the 1993-94 season.

He won six events, including a World Golf Championship event, on that tour and finished second in the 1993 PGA Championship at Akron, Ohio, to Australia’s Greg Norman.

Ogilvie and Montgomerie formed a close friendship before the Scot suffered a career-threatening back injury, requiring surgery, in 1989.

He had been diagnosed with spondyloarthritis and pain in his right shoulder before the incident.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Montgomerie said: “I never met someone with a gentler heart than Mike”

In the week following the 1991 British Open at Muirfield, Montgomerie and Ogilvie flew to Aberdeen for a 12-hole practice round.

“Mike, with all the pain he was in, he was still positive,” Montgomerie said. “He said he would play a 12-hole round with me.”

Ogilvie tied for 60th place in that Open, the closest the then-21-year-old from Scotland came to victory.

But he never felt the impact of that far-fetched finish on a national stage the way Montgomerie had as an amateur.

“I never got the homecoming that he got as an amateur,” he told BBC Sport. “They just took over the whole town. I never had anything like that for it being a professional.”

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