It wasn't one of the four trophies Tiger Woods covets most, but as far as awards go, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is as good as it gets.
Woods became just the fourth golfer ever awarded the medal on the heels of his fifth Masters victory and 15th overall major championship. Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Charlie Sifford are the other three. Woods also became just the 33rd athlete to receive the medal and joins Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth and Roger Staubach as athletes to receive it recently.
This medal, which Woods received from President Donald Trump, "Recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Trump and Woods appeared in the Rose Garden at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, and Trump rolled through Woods' laundry list of career accomplishments, highlighting the 1997 Masters, 2008 U.S. Open and 2019 Masters.
"Today, it's my privilege to award our nation's highest civilian honor to one of the greatest athletes in the history of sports, Tiger Woods," said Trump. "Tiger, congratulations on receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom."
"This evening, we are in the presence of a true legend," he added later. "An extraordinary athlete who has transformed golf and achieved new levels of dominances. He's also a great person. He's a great guy."
Woods' story is certainly astonishing. He went from a washed-up icon who couldn't get out of bed to winning the most important golf tournament in the world and taking home one of the handful of Presidential Medals of Freedom ever handed out. Trump called him a "global symbol of American excellence, devotion and drive."
Woods was genuinely emotional as he thanked his mom and his kids. He also contextualized what I think we've all been feeling about that historic Masters win over Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele.
"I just want to say this has been an unbelievable experience," said Woods. "... The amazing Masters experience I had a few weeks ago, certainly the highlight of what I've accomplished so far in my life on the golf course. This is an honor."
He went on to note that he named his own son Charlie after the previous golfer to win this award, Charlie Sifford, the first African American to play on the PGA Tour.
There is not necessarily a rhyme or reason to who receives this medal, but Trump and Woods have been at least friendly for a long time as well as business partners, as the New York Times pointed out.
Established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, the award is a unilateral exercise of presidential power. There are no guidelines for how or why someone should be selected.
The medal, which is considered the nation's highest civilian honor, is typically given near the end of the recipient's career to honor a lifetime of achievement. But Mr. Trump waited only a few weeks after the Masters to celebrate Mr. Woods.
It clearly meant a lot to Woods to receive the honor as Trump basked in the presence of athletic greatness. A strange (even improbable) scene? Maybe. But certainly a memorable one for Woods, his family and friends on Monday.
Tiger's boat is currently docked in New York as he awaits his first chance at major championship No. 16 next week at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. Woods won a U.S. Open there in 2002 and nearly won another in 2009 when Lucas Glover clipped him by four strokes. for the first two rounds next Thursday and Friday.