Tiger Woods became the fourth golfer to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday, the highest honor that can be bestowed on an American civilian, but the honor drew criticism from some who say the golfer is undeserving.
“I'm old enough to remember when Presidential Medals of Freedom were given for showing courage and making sacrifices on behalf of the nation and the world,” Paul Krugman, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, tweeted on Monday. “Tiger Woods... hits golf balls for money.”
However, Krugman seemed to be forgetting President George W. Bush awarded pro-golfers Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus the honor in 2004 and 2005 respectively and President Barack Obama bestowed the medal on Charlie Sifford, the first African American in the PGA, in 2014.
Many were quick to point out that fact in responses to the veteran columnist's tweet.
"Apparently, he’s old enough to not remember well anymore," one person wrote.
"It's amazing how many people don't know how to use Google search features. It's a great tool," another said.
However, others also criticized Woods' being given the honor -- but for different reasons.
Woods is also a longtime business associate of Trump, where he was worked to design a golf course in Dubai run by the Trump Organization and has made numerous appearances to support and bolster Trump business endeavors.
Although some have blasted Trump for using the office of the presidency to honor his business partner, others have pointed out that Woods isn’t the first medalist to financially contribute to the benefit a sitting president.
Bruce Springsteen was given the award, which can be bestowed at the sole discretion of the president, honoring his contributions in music that have “shaped American music and have challenged us to realize the American dream,” Obama said in 2016. Springsteen was also a vocal Obama supporter who performed at his campaign events. Amongst the honorees at Obama’s ceremony included 11 other campaign donators including talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and actors Robert De Niro and Tom Hanks.
Speaking at the White House Monday, President Trump heaped praise on the champion golfer.
"In addition to his incredible playing career, Tiger is a successful entrepreneur, to put it mildly, and devoted philanthropist," Trump said, acknowledging Woods’ work with the TGR Foundation, which he co-founded in 1996 and provides support to over 165,000 students, particularly minorities, to pursue degrees in STEM fields.
"Tiger, we are inspired by everything you've become and attained. The job you've done is incredible. Your spectacular achievements on the golf course, your triumph over physical adversity, and your relentless will to win, win, win. These qualities embody the American spirit of pushing boundaries, defying limits and always striving for greatness."
“Tiger Woods is the epitome of what people should try to be like in this country,” Lara Trump, the president’s 2020 senior campaign advisor said on “Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream,” on Monday. “He had a downward spiral. Things were looking a little bad for him. He came back not only on the golf course but in life.”
Trump announced he would be honoring Woods' after he won the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in April, his first major championship win in over 10 years since he dominated at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Over the course of his career Woods, 43, has won 81 PGA tournament titles, including 15 majors, cumulatively earning $118 million in prizes over 24-years as a pro golfer.