President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that he plans to give Tiger Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — in recognition of his “incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE.”
On Sunday Woods, 43, won the Masters Tournament for the fifth time, a surprising reversal of what had been a years-long slide for the country’s most famous golfer.
He walked off the course to an ecstatic response from assembled fans and his friends and family, including his two young children.
“It’s hard to comprehend right now. I mean, honestly, it’s only been a few hours out of winning the tournament,” Woods told CNN later Sunday. “I’m still trying to enjoy it and figure out that I actually won it.”
“I know I have the green jacket on but it’s just, it’s still, I think it’s going to take a little bit of time to sink in,” he added, referring to the iconic jacket awarded to the Masters winner each year.
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In his Monday tweet, President Trump said he and Woods had spoken after the Masters win and Trump congratulated him on his “great victory.” The two have been friendly over the years and golfed together earlier this year.
Last summer, Woods said he and Trump have known each other “a number of years.”
“He’s the President of the United States,” Woods said. “You have to respect the office. No matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”
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The Presidential Medal of Freedom is customarily awarded to a range of figures including artists, business leaders, philanthropists and politicians. Last year Trump awarded medals to, among others, Sen. Orrin Hatch and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Woods was a trailblazing figure in golf in the ’90s and well into the ’00s where he racked up major win after major win. But the revelation that a series of women said they had affairs with him while he was married to Elin Nordegren seriously damaged his image, and a series of back problems and surgeries imperiled his athletic performance.
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In 2017 he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Florida and subsequently pleaded guilty to reckless driving.
His Masters win on Sunday bumped him from No. 12 in the world rankings to No. 6, according to Golf.com. In December 2017, in the wake of his guilty plea and various surgeries, he was ranked No. 1,999.