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