On Monday, May 6, 2019, Tiger Woods was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the White House Rose Garden by President Trump. Woods, 43, is now the fourth golfer to receive the honor bestowed upon individuals who have made “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” It is the highest distinction a civilian can receive and presidents have discretion over who obtains the medal. Woods’ mother, Kultida; his daughter, Sam Alexis; his son, Charlie Axel; and his girlfriend, Erica Hernan were all in attendance.
There was some criticism from those who thought Woods did not deserve the medal. However, he joins the company of three other golfers awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Charlie Sifford. Palmer (2004) and Nicklaus (2005) were presented with their medals by George W. Bush and Sifford (2014) was honored by Barack Obama.
Woods revealed during his remarks, that his son, 10-year old Charlie, was named after Sifford. “He was like the grandpa I never had,” Tiger remembered. Charlie Sifford, sometimes called the “Jackie Robinson of golf” was the first African-American to join the PGA Tour.
There was also some criticism of Woods’ prior relationship with Trump.
Nevertheless, President Donald Trump praised Woods as a “true legend” and a “global symbol of American excellence, devotion, and drive.” He applauded his long-time friend and business associate for his persevering through his injuries and making a comeback embodying “the American spirit of pushing boundaries, defying limits and always striving for greatness.”
Tiger Woods Masters win in April of this year at Augusta National Golf Club was his first in that location since 2005 and his first major title win in almost 11 years. Throughout his career, Woods has earned 81 PGA tournament titles.