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Charles Yates dies aged 92

Charles Yates, a former British Amateur champion who learned golf from Bobby Jones and played in the first Masters, died Monday at his home. He was 92.

Yates, a member at Augusta National Golf Club since 1940, had been suffering from Parkinson's Disease.

``I am deeply saddened by the passing of Charlie Yates,'' Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson said. ``Charlie was an outstanding amateur golfer and a member who was linked to Bobby Jones and club's history, attending every Masters through 2003. He will be greatly missed.''

Yates learned to play golf at East Lake Golf Club and was mentored by Jones. He won the Georgia Amateur in 1931 and 1932, the NCAA title in 1934 at Georgia Tech and the Western Amateur in 1935. Yates played on two Walker Cup teams (1936 and 1938), and was captain of the U.S. team in 1953.

Jones was 11 years older, but they became close friends. Yates played 11 times in the Masters, including the inaugural tournament in 1934.

``There wasn't any strict rule about who was eligible to play in the Masters then,'' he once told The Augusta Chronicle. ``Bob invited some of his friends, such as myself.''

He tied for 21st that year and twice was low amateur, but his most memorable Masters came in 1935. Yates was playing in the group ahead when Gene Sarazen made double eagle on the par-5 15th to force a playoff he won the next day. That shot put the Masters on the map.

``I was in the back of my swing on the 16th hole when it happened,'' he said.

Asked if it affected his shot, Yates replied, ``I don't have the slightest idea. By then, I'd had so many strokes it didn't make any difference.''

Yates' amateur career, except for playing the Masters, ended with World War II when he was drafted into the Army. He transferred to the Navy and spent 30 months as a lieutenant on the destroyer USS Mayo, which was struck by enemy fire during the invasion of Italy.

Yates retired from business at age 60 when former Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen Jr. asked him to serve as president of the Atlanta Arts Alliance, and he raised $20 million to build the High Museum of Art.

October 18, 2005

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