USA Today reports that President Donald Trump awarded Tiger Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday. The ceremony took place at the White House Rose Garden during the evening and marked the first time that an active athlete earned the medal. After Trump delivered 15 minutes of introductory remarks on Woods’ accomplishments as both a professional golfer and philanthropist, the renowned golfer took the podium to a standing ovation and seemed to have trouble holding in his emotions.
“This has been an unbelievable experience.”
Trump said that Woods’ victory in the Masters tournament in Augusta last month capped one “one of the most incredible comebacks that golf, or any sport, has ever seen.”
“Tiger Woods is a global symbol of American excellence, devotion and drive. These qualities embody the American spirit of pushing boundaries, defying limits and always striving for greatness.”
In the audience were Vice President Mike Pence as well as Woods’ mother, son, daughter, girlfriend, and caddie. Trump also used the occasion to pay tribute to Woods’ late father, Earl, and pointed out the golf champion’s caddie, Joe LaCava, by name, which earned a round of applause.
Trump called Woods “one of the greatest athletes in all of sports … a true legend,” and said that he was responsible for introducing golf to many people around the world.
Pres tells guests they are in the presence "of a true legend and extraordinary athlete." @POTUS further hails @TigerWoods as a "global symbol" of American excellence and drive. pic.twitter.com/rZOlXAAzij— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) May 6, 2019
The president has been a fan of Woods for years and even ventured into business with him when he announced in 2014 that the 43-year-old golfer would design a course in Dubai to be a part of one of the Trump Organization’s luxury residential megaprojects, per NPR.
But some people are critical of both Trump’s decision and Wood’s willingness to accept the award. Writer Rick Reilly, whose book Commander In Cheat claims that Trump is notorious for cheating at golf, claims that Woods should reject the award because the president “thinks golf should only be for the rich.”
“How can @TigerWoods accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from a man who thinks golf should only be for the rich?”
The White House reports that Monday’s ceremony marks the second time in less than six months that the president has awarded Medals of Freedom. Back in November, he gave the award to Miriam Adelson, Orrin G. Hatch, Alan Page, Elvis Presley, George “Babe” Ruth, Jr., Antonin Scalia, and Roger Staubach. To date, Woods is the fourth professional golfer to receive the medal alongside Arnold Palmer, Charlie Sifford, and Jack Nicklaus.