Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam accept Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump amid chaos in D.C.

Jason Owens
·2 min read

A day after chaos engulfed Washington, D.C., golfers Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump.

Trump also bestowed the honor posthumously to women’s golf pioneer and Olympic gold medalist Babe Zaharias.

Ceremony takes place day after Capitol attack

Trump awarded the medals a day after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to subvert the Congressional confirmation of the election of President-elect Joe Biden as his successor.

Trump, who stoked conspiracy theories that led to the baseless challenges to Biden’s election, urged the mob to march on the Capitol before the attack that ransacked the institution and resulted in four deaths.

The attack has raised demands for the invocation of the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office and a call from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to impeach Trump a second time if he’s not removed.

Gary Player reacts after hitting a longer tee shot then Annika Sorenstam on the 15th hole during the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational Pro-Am held at GlenArbor Golf Club on October 12, 2015 in Bedford Hills, New York. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam accepted the honors less than 24 hours after a pro-Trump mob invaded the U.S. Capitol. (Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Medals awarded behind closed doors

Despite the mayhem, Thursday’s ceremony went on as scheduled, though absent the high-profile displays regularly associated with the nation’s highest civilian honor. Trump has awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom 23 times since taking office, 14 times to sports figures, including Tiger Woods, wrestling icon Dan Gable and former college football coach and vocal Trump supporter Lou Holtz.

The award is usually accompanied by a high-profile ceremony in the Rose Garden or Oval Office with media and supporters invited. Thursday’s ceremony took place behind closed doors with no media presence.

The White House instead acknowledged the awarding of the medals in a news release.

“Today, President Donald J. Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to Babe Zaharias,” the release read before going into biographical information about the recipients. “The President also presented the award to previously announced recipients Annika Sorenstam and Gary J. Player.”

Sorenstam and Player are both members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Player won 24 times on the PGA Tour and posted nine victories in majors while recording a career Grand Slam. Sorenstam was the face of the LPGA for years while recording 72 tour victories and 10 major wins.

They have played together in Pro-Am events and previously drew criticism from Trump critics for playing a 2019 round with the president and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.).

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