Golf – Emotional Woods Accepts White House Freedom Medal



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REUTERS: Tiger Woods, who stunned the sports world when he won his fifth Masters title last month, received his country's highest civilian honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Donald Trump on Monday.

Last month, Augusta's triumph ended a major 11-year drought for the 43-year-old golfer, who had suffered personal and professional setbacks, including a highly publicized divorce and several surgeries in the previous decade.

Thrilled Woods thanked those present at the White House Rose Garden for their support during the years when he was not winning.

"You saw the good and the bad, the ups and downs, and I would not be in this position without all of your help," he said after Trump placed the medal around his neck.

Woods recalled his revolutionary triumph in Augusta 22 years ago that the 21-year-old celebrated with his father and mentor Earl, who died in 2006.

"In '97, yes, I won the Masters and I ended up hugging my father and mother," he said.

"My father is no longer here, but my mother is here, I love you mother," he added, his voice choked with emotion as he thanked his two sons and his girlfriend Erica Herman.

"The incredible masters experience I had a few weeks ago is certainly part of the highlight of what I accomplished in my life on the golf course."

Trump, an avid golfer, described the 15-time champion as a "global symbol of US excellence, devotion and motivation."

Woods joined Arnold Palmer, Charlie Sifford and Jack Nicklaus as the only golfers to receive the award.

It is awarded annually to persons who have contributed significantly to the national security or interests of the country, to world peace or to cultural undertakings or other significant public or private undertakings.

Since taking over, Trump has given the award to several athletes, including former NFL professional players Roger Staubach and Alan Page, as well as, posthumously, the great baseball player "Babe" Ruth.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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