Despite turmoil just blocks away at the United States Capitol Building on Wednesday, Swedish golf star Annika Sorenstam and South African great Gary Player received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump on Thursday in the East Room of the White House.
According to the Golfweek website, the ceremony was originally scheduled for March 23, 2020, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias also received the award posthumously.
The three join Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Charlie Sifford and Tiger Woods as the only golfers who have received the nation’s highest civilian honour.
The award is given to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Other notable recipients include among others, Muhammad Ali, Nancy Reagan, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King jnr.
Annika Sorenstam is the only player in LPGA history to card a 59 and won 72 times on tour, including 10 major titles. The eight-time LPGA Player of the Year was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003.
GARY PLAYER HAS WON 24 TIMES ON THE PGA TOUR
Gary Player won 24 times on the PGA Tour, including nine major championships. The 85-year-old is one of just five players to win the career Grand Slam along with Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Nicklaus and Woods.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias, a two-time gold medalist in track and field at the 1932 Summer Olympics, went on to play professional golf where she also won 10 major championships.
While Trump has nearly 90 million Twitter followers, he only follows 51 people and organisations. One of those is Gary Player.
Meanwhile, one of Player’s six children – his eldest son, Marc – thinks his nine-time major champion father should politely decline the award.
Marc Player took to Twitter to write: I wish my father would simply & politely decline this “award” at this time. Tone deaf. In denial. Wrong!!
This isn’t the first time Player and his son have publicly butted heads.
“It is with great sadness that both my personal and business relationship with my father has deteriorated to the extent that it has,” said Marc in a June 2020 story that detailed an ownership and naming rights dispute between Gary Player and the Gary Player Group, his company operated by Marc.