Player And Sorenstam Receive Controversial Presidential Medals

Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam have been criticised after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom a day after the Washington riots

Player And Sorenstam Receive Controversial Presidential Medals
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam have been criticised after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom a day after the Washington riots

Player And Sorenstam Receive Controversial Presidential Medals

Just a day after the troubles around the US Capitol building, President Trump awarded Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam and the late Babe Zaharias with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The ceremony took place behind-closed-doors with the golfers receiving the highest US civilian honour available.

Tiger Woods received it in 2019 after his Masters win and Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Charlie Sifford are the only other golfers to have been honoured with the Medal.

Tiger Woods Receives Presidential Medal Of Freedom

The careers of Player, Sorenstam and Zaharias are unquestionably excellent, with 29 Majors between them, although some feel that the timing of the awards a day after the US Capitol was breached do not paint golf in the best light.

It was postponed due to Covid-19, having originally been announced back in March.

Gary Player's son Marc tweeted that he wished his father would decline the award.

He wrote, "I wish my father would simply & politely decline this “award” at this time. Tone deaf. In denial. Wrong!!"

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The Golf Channels's Damon Hack was also critical, saying on air during Golf Today: "I have to say I've been saddened, heartbroken, confused and occasionally angered at the normalisation of this President by so many.

"And today's medal ceremony on the day after inciting of a mob by said President, it's just one more reminder of the tone deafness, the convenient comfortable ignorance of many in our game."

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Others were critical on social media, including two-time LET winner Meg MacLaren:

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The Telegraph's Golf Correspondent James Corrigan was critical of the golfers and suggested he may resign from the Association of Golf Writers after it congratulated the trio on their Medals.

The tweet has since been deleted.

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Annika Sorenstam's Annika Foundation Twitter account was also subjected to abuse after announcing she would be receiving the award on the day of the riots.

Both Sorenstam and Player have also received criticism in the US media.

Related: Should Trump courses still be considered for hosting tour events?

A 90-time professional winner, Annika Sorenstam won 10 Majors in her career before retiring in 2008.

Gary Player won nine Majors and nine senior Majors in his career including the career grand slam, one of just five men to do so in the modern era.

Babe Zaharias was also an all-time great, with nine Majors to her name.

She was an incredible multi-sport athlete, winning two Golds and one Silver at the 1932 Olympic Games in three different sports.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL

Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5