Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
Kevin C. Cox
Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player are joining the short list of golfers who have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The White House announced on Friday that Sorenstam, a 10-time major winner on the LPGA Tour, and Player, one of only five players to win the men's career Grand Slam, will be honored on March 23 by President Donald Trump.
"It is an overwhelming feeling. I am grateful, I am humbled, I am moved, and I am blessed," Sorenstam said in a tweet.
Sorenstam, 49, a native of Sweden, is the first female golfer to be a recipient, as well as the first female who is a naturalized citizen to receive the honor. Player, from South Africa, joins other members of golf's "Big Three," Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. The other golfers to receive the honor are Tiger Woods and Charlie Sifford. Woods received his Medal of Freedom from President Trump in April 2019.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor a civilian can receive. The White House explains honorees as having "made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Sorenstam dominated the LPGA Tour in the late 1990s and early 2000s, winning 72 times, before retiring in 2008. In 2003, she made history by becoming the first woman since 1945 to play in a PGA Tour event, the Bank of America Colonial.
Sorenstam became a citizen of the United States in 2006, and during retirement she has put her efforts towards the Annika Foundation, which, along with creating golf opportunities for young women, has goals to promote a healthy lifestyle, education and community.
Player, 84, won 24 times on the PGA Tour, nine of those coming in majors. He, too, started a foundation: the Player Foundation, which works to raise funds for underprivileged children.