Donald Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to 'true legend' Tiger Woods

On Monday, President Donald Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tiger Woods.

Trump announced that the White House would bestow Woods with the nation’s highest civilian honor after Woods won the Masters in April, completing a remarkable career comeback for his 15th major title and first since 2008.

Woods accepted the invitation and received the award at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden Monday evening. He becomes the fourth golfer to receive the award, joining Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Charlie Sifford.

Trump awards ‘true legend’ Tiger Woods

“It is my privilege to award our nation’s highest civilian honor to one of the the greatest athletes in the history of sports, Tiger Woods,” Trump said in the Rose Garden ceremony. “Tiger, congratulations on receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

Trump acknowledged Woods’ caddie Joe LaCava, who was sitting in the audience, before touting Woods’ accolades in a thorough account of Woods’ career, giving a detailed recap of his career achievements.

“This evening, we are in the presence of a true legend, an extraordinary athlete who has transformed golf and achieved new levels of dominance,” Trump said. “He’s also a great person. He’s a great guy.

“Tiger introduced countless new people to the sport of golf from every background and from every walk of life. … Tiger Woods is a global symbol of American excellence, devotion and drive.”

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The most beautiful photos of Tiger Woods' golf game
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The most beautiful photos of Tiger Woods' golf game
NASSAU, BAHAMAS - DECEMBER 01: Tiger Woods of the United States hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during round one of the Hero World Challenge at Albany, The Bahamas on December 1, 2016 in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GREENSBORO, NC - AUGUST 23: Tiger Woods plays his second shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club on August 23, 2015 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, VA - JULY 31: Tiger Woods reads a putt on the 10th green during the second round of the Quicken Loans National at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club on July 31, 2015 in Gainesville, Virginia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, VA - JULY 30: Tiger Woods tees off on the 17th hole during the first round of the Quicken Loans National at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club on July 30, 2015 in Gainesville, Virginia. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
SHEBOYGAN, WI - AUGUST 12: Tiger Woods of the United States plays his shot from the 18th tee during a practice round prior to the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on August 12, 2015 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
SHEBOYGAN, WI - AUGUST 12: Tiger Woods of the United States hits a tee shot during a practice round prior to the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on August 12, 2015 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND - JULY 17: Tiger Woods of the United States looks on from the 5th tee during the second round of the 144th Open Championship at The Old Course on July 17, 2015 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - FEBRUARY 01: Tiger Woods of the USA plays his third shot on the par 5, third hole from the desert during the third round of the 2014 Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club on February 1, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 17: Tiger Woods of the USA watches his approach shot on the tenth hole during the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on January 17, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 17: Tiger Woods of the USA hits a shot on the practice ground before the start of the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on January 17, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
LA JOLLA, CA - JANUARY 27: Tiger Woods hits off the tee box during the Third Round at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South Golf Course on January 27, 2013 in La Jolla, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
LA JOLLA, CA - JANUARY 28: Tiger Woods looks on from the 12th green en route to his -14 under victory during the Final Round at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on January 28, 2013 in La Jolla, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
MARANA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Tiger Woods hits his second shot on the second hole during the first round of the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain on February 21, 2013 in Marana, Arizona. Round one play was suspended on February 20 due to inclimate weather and is scheduled to be continued today. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
MARANA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 16th hole during the first round of the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain on February 21, 2013 in Marana, Arizona. Round one play was suspended on February 20 due to inclimate weather and is scheduled to be continued today. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 27: Tiger Woods of USA plays a shot during the pro am of the Honda Classic at PGA National on February 27, 2013 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - MARCH 01: Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the second round of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa on March 1, 2013 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - MARCH 02: Tiger Woods walks off the fifth hole during the third round of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa on March 2, 2013 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
KIAWAH ISLAND, SC - AUGUST 10: Tiger Woods of the United States hits off the tenth tee during Round Two of the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on August 10, 2012 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 21: Tiger Woods of the United States plays his tee shot at the par 4, 13th hole during the first round of the 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard at Bay Hill Golf and Country Club on March 21, 2013 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND - JULY 17: Tiger Woods of the United States hits a shot during the second practice round prior to the start of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes on July 17, 2012 in Lytham St Annes, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 16: (EDITORS NOTE: An infrared camera was used to create this image.) Tiger Woods of the United States hits his tee shot on the eighth hole during the third round of the 112th U.S. Open at The Olympic Club on June 16, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 11: Tiger Woods of the United States hits his approach shot on the 18th hole during the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 11, 2012 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - MARCH 02: Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 12th hole during the second round of the Honda Classic at PGA National on March 2, 2012 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 06: Tiger Woods walks off the 15th tee with swing coach Sean Foley during a practice round for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at the Trump Doral Golf Resort & Spa on March 6, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
CARMEL, IN - SEPTEMBER 07: Tiger Woods walks across a foot bridge towards the fourth hole tee box during the second round of the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club on September 7, 2012 in Carmel, Indiana. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 10: Tiger Woods of the USA prepares for a shot on the eighth hole as a plane flies over during day one of the 2011 Emirates Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club at The Lakes Golf Club on November 10, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)
WINDERMERE, FL - MARCH 15: Tiger Woods of the USA drives from the 7th tee during the second day of the 2011 Tavistock Cup at Isleworth Golf and Country Club on March 15, 2011 in Windermere, Florida. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 09: Tiger Woods walks to the 14th tee during the third round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 09: The shadow of Tiger Woods is seen as he hits from a bunker on the 17th hole during the third round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - FEBRUARY 10: Tiger Woods of the USA hits his tee-shot on the eighth hole during the first round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the Majlis course at the Emirates Golf Club on February 10, 2011 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PEBBLE BEACH, CA - JUNE 17: Tiger Woods hits his second shot on the ninth hole during the first round of the 110th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 17, 2010 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 12: Tiger Woods of the USA walks up the18th fairway during day two of the Australian Masters at The Victoria Golf Club on November 12, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 10: Tiger Woods waits on the fourth tee during the second round of the 2009 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2009 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 11: Tiger Woods plays his tee shot on the fourth hole during the third round of the 2009 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2009 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 09: Tiger Woods tees off the 17th tee during the rain delayed 3rd Round of The Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2006 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 08: Tiger Woods walks down the 6th fairway during the rain delayed 3rd Round of The Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2006 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Getty Images)
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Trump: Woods ‘remembers the good stuff’

Trump briefly alluded to Woods’ career and personal downfall that includes his public divorce from wife Elin Nordegren and ensuing struggles on the course for years that preceded his comeback capped by last month’s win at Augusta.

“He’s got a great memory, this guy,” Trump said while looking at Woods. “He remembers the good stuff, which is really important. Not the bad.”

Woods gets emotional

An emotional Woods addressed the attendees at the Rose Garden, who included family and supporters and gave him a standing ovation.

“You’ve seen the good and the bad, the highs and the lows,” Woods said. “I would not be in this position without all of your help.

Award not without controversy

The selection of Woods was not without controversy as Woods and Trump have business ties, and Trump’s presidency is marred by concerns that he uses his office to further his businesses that he has not divested in.

Woods designed a a Dubai golf course managed by The Trump Organization, and has a villa named after him at one of Trump’s properties in Doral, Florida.

"You have to ask whether it's his true belief Tiger Woods deserves this award or whether he's doing it to help his business," Jordan Libowitz, communications of the public policy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told the Associated Press.

Christopher Devine, a political science professor at Dayton, made the point that Woods’ accomplishments merit the honor, regardless of any conflict that may exist for Trump.

"If President Obama or Hillary Clinton had given the award to Tiger, no one would have batted an eye," Devine told the Associated Press.

History of the award

Other athletes to receive the honor include Bill Russell, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali.

President John F. Kennedy established the award in 1963 to honor those who have have made "especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

The president alone chooses who receives the award, which has been given nearly 600 times to artists, educators, public servants, entertainers, journalists and athletes, among recipients in other endeavors.

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