Trump awards medal to Tiger Woods, calls him ‘true legend’

Tiger Woods won his first major in nearly 11 years at last month’s Masters Tournament

President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Tiger Woods pose for a picture with, from left, Woods’ girlfriend Erica Herman, his mother Kultida Woods, children Sam Alexis Woods and Charlie Axel Woods during a ceremony awarding Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Tiger Woods pose for a picture with, from left, Woods’ girlfriend Erica Herman, his mother Kultida Woods, children Sam Alexis Woods and Charlie Axel Woods during a ceremony awarding Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Donald Trump awarded golfer Tiger Woods the nation’s highest civilian honour on Monday, describing the 43-year-old as a “true legend” who transformed golf and then fought through years of injury to return to the sport’s summit.

Trump awarded Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He’s the fourth golfer to earn that distinction and certainly the youngest. While Woods dominated the sport for more than a decade, he won his first major in nearly 11 years at last month’s Masters Tournament, a comeback that captivated the sporting world.

READ MORE: Masters: Tiger caps comeback with 15th major title

“Tiger was back on top,” Trump declared during the Rose Garden ceremony.

If there were a Mount Rushmore for golfers, Woods would almost certainly be on it. He ranks second in PGA Tour wins and in major tournament victories. But the president’s decision to award the nation’s highest civilian honour to Woods also raised scrutiny about whether the president should be boosting the profile of a business associate of The Trump Organization.

Trump understood the importance of Woods comeback to golf and its fans, tweeting shortly after the Masters win that he was awarding Woods the medal because of his “incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE.”

Trump has been using Woods’ cachet to attract fans to his properties for decades. Trump got Woods to show up at his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a day after the golfer’s first Masters victory in 1997. The place was mobbed. Two thousand fans showed up as Woods walked down a 320-foot red carpet, some of them storming steel barricades to get a closer look.

Trump has also struck business deals with Woods.

Golfers at Trump’s club in Doral, Florida, can stay at the Tiger Woods Villa. At a ribbon cutting ceremony in 2014, Woods lavished praise on the future presidential candidate, calling changes he made to the club “phenomenal.”

In Dubai, Woods designed an 18-hole course to be managed by The Trump Organization.

Ethics officials have criticized Trump for not selling off his assets completely and holding the money in a blind trust. Instead, he set up a trust to hold his assets, handed day-to-day management responsibilities to two sons and hired an ethics lawyer to vet business deals. Trump can draw money from the trust and can benefit if his properties increase in value.

“You have to ask whether it’s his true belief Tiger Woods deserves this award or whether he’s doing it to help his business,” said Jordan Libowitz, communications director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning public policy group.

Christopher Devine, an associate professor of political science at the University of Dayton, said Trump may have a business angle, but when he stacks up Woods’ accomplishments against other recipients, he believes Woods deserves it.

“If President Obama or Hillary Clinton had given the award to Tiger, no one would have batted an eye,” said Devine, who has studied the history of the award, established in 1963.

President George W. Bush presented the Medal of Freedom to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Obama presented it to Charlie Sifford, sometimes referred to as the “Jackie Robinson of golf.” Woods noted that he named his son after Sifford. “He was like the grandpa I never had,” Woods recalled.

Devine also noted that previous presidents have presented the award to supporters and political donors. For example, Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom to Bruce Springsteen, who performed in concerts to support Obama’s election efforts. He also awarded it to his vice-president, Joe Biden.

Woods was joined at the ceremony by his mother, Kutilda; daughter, Sam Alexis, 11; son, Charlie Axel, 10; and girlfriend Erica Herman. Woods’ father, Earl, passed away more than a decade ago. Woods’ longtime caddie, Joe LaCava, also attended.

Woods became emotional as he spoke of his parents, and he thanked those who have supported him over the years, saying, “You’ve seen the good and bad, the highs and lows, and I would not be in this position without all of your help.”

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is given to 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 endeavours,” according to the White House. Presidents have complete discretion over whom they honour with the medal.

Some athletes and sports champions have resisted visiting the Trump White House because of their differences with the president.

Rick Reilly, who wrote a book about Trump’s golfing entitled “Commander in Cheat,” said Woods has brought golf to people of colour all over the world, while Trump has promoted it as a sport for the rich. He said Woods has not been one to take stands on political issues, but should have declined the award in this case.

“I can see how it would be hard to resist, but I still think it’s hypocritical to do it,” Reilly said.

Associated Press writer Bernard Condon in New York contributed to this report.

Kevin Freking, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Eleven months after John and Deanna Reimer opened new, bigger, premises in Walnut Grove, COVID-19 struck. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
How a Langley gym owner is getting through the pandemic

Eleven months after John and Deanna Reimer opened new, bigger, premises, COVID-19 struck

Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek organized the Winter Wonderland fund-raiser which was Jan. 25, 2020. (Langley Advance Times file)
LETTER: Langley City mayor voices support for department RCMP superintendent

Mayor said she’s been working to get senior RCMP officer back

Members of the Langley Christian High School donated blood to mark their milestone year. (Left to right) Kiera Hummelman, Camryn Visscher, Jayde Campbell, Grace Bennett, Danae Vanderveen, Cynthia McCarthy (teacher), Carson Foster, Josh Nelson, Carsen Grim hope to inspire others to donate. (Grace Bennett/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley Christian grads roll up their sleeves to donate blood

Students went to a mobile clinic and hope to inspire others to donate

Share your opinion via email, through our website or in a posted letter. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Religion doesn’t have a lock on morality, Langley resident writes

People must ultimately decide for themselves how to act

A letter from a senior RCMP officer in Langley said Mounties who attended a mayor’s gala in January of 2020 used their own money. Controversy over the event has dogged mayor Val van den Broek (R) and resulted in the reassignment of Langley RCMP Supt. Murray Power (L). (file)
Langley RCMP officers used ‘own money’ to attend mayor’s gala, senior officer says

‘I would not want there to be a belief that the police officers had done something untoward’

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Squirrels are responsible for most of U.S. power outages. Black Press file photo
Dead squirrels in park lead Richmond RCMP to probe ‘toxic substance’ found in trees

Police aren’t sure if the chemical was dumped there or placed intentionally

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Most Read