A day after the invasion of the US Capitol building, Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump in a closed-door ceremony. The White House confirmed this in a press release.
This prestigious award is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, which is awarded by the President to individuals who 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 world knows Annika on a first-name basis after her legendary 15-year professional golf career that broke world records and forever changed the way women’s golf is played. Annika earned her way into the World Golf Hall of Fame after becoming the only player in Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour history to shoot 59, achieve 89 worldwide victories (including 72 LPGA and 10 Major Championships), and be awarded prestigious titles including the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year and the Golf Writers Association of America Female Athlete of the Year.
In 2008, Annika stepped beyond professional golf to focus on her family, foundation, and brand. Annika is an athlete, philanthropist, and entrepreneur who has committed her life to winning. Gary J. Player is a men’s golf legend who has won 165 professional golf tournaments worldwide and is one of only five men to ever capture golf’s coveted Career Grand Slam.
Player won nine Major championships on the Regular Tour, nine Major championships on the Senior Tour, and is the only player in history to complete the career Grand Slam on both Tours. His Player Foundation and the Gary Player Invitational raise substantial sums of money for underprivileged children across the globe.
Player is a recipient of the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour’s Lifetime Achievement Award and currently serves as the Global Ambassador to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump
Donald Trump also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to Babe Zaharias.
Zaharias grew up in poverty in Beaumont, Texas. She quickly became an athletic renaissance woman. As a child she hit five home runs in a single baseball game and was nicknamed “Babe” after Babe Ruth. It was a name that she carried for the rest of her life.
In high school, Babe competed in every sport offered. She bowled a 200 average, came close to breaking world records in swimming, and won all-city and all-state awards in basketball. She went on to play for the Golden Cyclones basketball team.
She became an All-American three years in a row and scored a record 100 points in a single game. She pitched exhibition games for men’s major leagues teams and was an all-star softball player. At the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, Babe set world records in the hurdles, javelin throw, and high jump.
She won two gold medals and one silver. After the Olympics, Babe announced that she was entering the national golf tournament for women. Her perseverance paid off and she quickly started to win international recognition.