Rediff.com
Print this article

PHOTOS: Emotional Woods gets highest civilian honour

May 07, 2019 09:48 IST

Golf great accepts Medal of Freedom at White House from business partner and US President Donald Trump

 US President Donald Trump presents professional golfer and business partner Tiger Woods with the Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC on Monday. Trump announced he would give the nation’s highest civilian honor to Woods, 43, in honor of his Masters victory last month

IMAGE: US President Donald Trump presents professional golfer and business partner Tiger Woods with the Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC on Monday. Trump announced he would give the nation’s highest civilian honor to Woods, 43, in honor of his Masters victory last month. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Tiger Woods, who stunned the sports world when he won his fifth Masters title last month, received his country's highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from US President Donald Trump on Monday.

Last month's Augusta triumph ended an 11-year major title drought for the 43-year-old golfer, who had endured personal and professional setbacks including a highly-public divorce and multiple surgeries over the previous decade.

 

Woods, 43, is only the fourth and the youngest golfer ever to have received the highest American civilian award.

An emotional Woods thanked those in attendance at the Rose Garden ceremony at the White House for their support through the years when he was not winning.

"You've seen the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, and I would not be in this position without all of your help," he said after Trump placed the medal around his neck.

US President Donald Trump gives professional golfer and business partner Tiger Woods the Medal of Freedom

IMAGE: US President Donald Trump gives professional golfer and business partner Tiger Woods the Medal of Freedom. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Woods recalled his breakthrough triumph at Augusta 22 years ago which the then 21-year-old celebrated with his father and mentor Earl, who died in 2006.

"In '97, yes, I won the Masters and I ended up hugging my dad and my mom," he said.

"My dad is no longer here but my mom is here, I love you mom," he added, his voice cracking with emotion as he went on to thank his two children and girlfriend Erica Herman.

"The amazing Masters experience I just had a few weeks ago certainly is part of the highlight of what I've accomplished in my life on the golf course."

Trump, an avid golfer, described the 15-times major champion as a "a global symbol of American excellence, devotion and drive".

Woods joined Arnold Palmer, Charlie Sifford and Jack Nicklaus as the only golfers to have received the award.

It is awarded annually to people who have made outstanding contributions to the security or national interests of the country, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavours.

Tiger Woods is flanked by girlfriend Erica Herman, mother Kultida Woods, son Sam Alexis Woods, daughter Charlie Axel Woods, US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump after the presentation ceremony 

IMAGE: Tiger Woods is flanked by girlfriend Erica Herman, mother Kultida Woods, son Sam Alexis Woods, daughter Charlie Axel Woods, US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump after the presentation ceremony. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Since taking office Trump has given the award to several athletes, including former professional NFL players Roger Staubach and Alan Page as well as posthumously to baseball great "Babe" Ruth.

Calling Woods, "a global symbol of American excellence, devotion and drive," the president said, "Tiger's determination and work ethic drove golf to new heights of athletic competition and popularity."

In his remarks, Trump praised Woods as "one of the greatest athletes in the history of sports."

Trump said, "we were in the presence of a true legend" who is "also a great person, a great guy".

"We can't wait to see what's next, Tiger," said Trump, an avid golfer and owner of several golf courses around the world. 

Source:
© Copyright 2019 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.