It is wonderful news for the game of golf but outgoing US President Donald Trump’s timing is well off. While Trump is rightfully facing calls for his removal from the Oval Office, he turned the horror of the Washington DC riots on Tuesday into a day of ceremony on Thursday for the three famed golfers -Annika Sörenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe Didrikson Zaharias – by awarding them the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Sweden’s Sörenstam is a 10-times major champion while legendary South African-born Player is a winner of nine major titles and is also just one of five players to hold golf’s coveted Grand Slam. Receiving the honour posthumously was Zaharias, who also won 10 golf majors as well as two track & field gold medals at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games and is regarded as one of the greatest American athletes of all time. She died in 1956 at the age of 45.
“Today, President Donald J. Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to Babe Zaharias. The President also presented the award to previously announced recipients Annika Sörenstam and Gary J. Player,” the White House said in a statement.
The presentation, not open to the press, took place in the East Room at the White House with 50-60 people in attendance and “went off without a hitch,” one of the guests told GolfChannel.com. The trio join Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Charlie Sifford and Tiger Woods as the only golfers to receive the award with Woods receiving his award last year after he won his fifth Masters title for a career 15th Major. It was announced in March that Sörenstam, Player and Zaharias would be presented with the award but the ceremony was postponed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.