'Incredible' Woods to get Presidential Medal of Freedom

Tiger Woods with the Masters trophy on Sunday, his fifth win at Augusta National, and 15th Major victory overall. PHOTO: REUTERS
Tiger Woods with the Masters trophy on Sunday, his fifth win at Augusta National, and 15th Major victory overall. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • A Green Jacket, a fat pay cheque and a restored reputation are not the only rewards Tiger Woods will receive after winning his fifth Masters on Sunday, capping one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.

He will also be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, according to US President Donald Trump.

"Spoke to Tiger Woods to congratulate him on the great victory he had," President Trump tweeted on Monday afternoon. "And to inform him that because of his incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE, I will be presenting him with the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM!"

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the United States' highest civilian honour, and is awarded to those who make outstanding contributions to national security or national interest, world peace, culture or other public or private endeavours.

The medal has been awarded since 1963, and is typically given to a dozen or fewer people each year.

Mr Trump did not announce a date for that honour, which would put Woods in rarefied company along with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Charlie Sifford, the only other golfers to have received the award.

So far, he has honoured three athletes with medals of freedom: the late Babe Ruth (baseball) and Roger Staubach and Alan Page (American football).

The one-stroke victory for Woods at Augusta, his 15th Major triumph, represented an epic comeback nearly 11 years after his last win in a major tournament.

However, it did not translate into a larger TV audience for CBS Corp after an earlier-than-normal start meant some viewers were probably still asleep when coverage kicked off.

With the exception of the British Open, major golf tournaments usually air in the afternoons on the East Coast. Sunday's final round started early because tournament organisers wanted to avoid bad weather approaching Augusta.

Still, the 7.7 rating marked the highest rating for a morning golf broadcast in 34 years, CBS said.

Woods, who was playing in the final group, teed off at 9.20am on the East Coast and wrapped up before 2pm, causing CBS to potentially miss out on West Coast viewers who did not wake up early.

Each rating point equals one per cent of US TV households.

Meanwhile, a man from Wisconsin who bet US$85,000 (S$115,000) on Woods to win was handed a cheque for US$1.275 million by bookmaker William Hill on Monday. James Adducci, 39, told Golf Digest that the 14/1 bet was his first sports wager.

An video circulating online showed the stockbroker, who works from home, picking up his winnings at SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. He plans to spend it on home improvements and paying off debts while investing the rest.

WASHINGTON POST, NYTIMES, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2019, with the headline ''Incredible' Woods to get Presidential Medal of Freedom'. Print Edition | Subscribe