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  • Alistair Tait

Why did you go Annika?

Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player didn't really turn up at the White House to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump the morning after those ugly scenes in Washington DC, did they?

Say it's not so Annika, Gary.

After arguably the worst day in modern American history two legends of the game accepted baubles from the man many feel enticed an angry mob to try to take down American democracy.

Sorenstam and Player were awarded the medals along with a posthumous award to Babe Didrikson Zaharias. At least Babe had an excuse for not turning down the award – she's been dead for years. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Charlie Sifford and Tiger Woods are the only other golfers to be awarded the medal. There was no reason for them to turn it down. However, I would have thought Sorenstam and Player would have thought twice about meeting President Trump in the East Room of the White House the very day after the ugly scenes in Washington he helped create.

Sometimes you just can't make this stuff up.

I'm not alone in wondering: What were they thinking?

Meghan MacLaren spoke for many when she tweeted:

"Golf why you got to do these things to yourself sometimes?"

Fellow golf writer James Corrigan of The Telegraph also questioned the wisdom of the two players. In his own inimitable way, he tweeted:

"Hey look, golfers were the first back in the Oval Office. Trump's freedom ceremony for Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and Babe Didrikson Zaharias actually went ahead today. Sympathies to Zaharias. Shame on the other two who are still alive and had the choice to say 'up yours'"

On Golf Today, experienced golf commentator and writer Daman Hack expressed the disappointment many of us feel. He said:

"I have to say I've been saddened, heartbroken, confused and occasionally angered at the normalisation of this President by so many. And with today's medal ceremony on the day after the inciting of a mob by said President, it's just one more reminder of the tone deafness, the convenient comfortable ignorance of so many in our game."

Arguably the best commentary comes from USA Today's Christine Brennan. She got it spot on when she wrote:

"Sorenstam and Player, widely regarded as paragons of sportsmanship and honour in their game, did not cancel on Trump. They did not note the horror that had taken place on his watch and decide that Thursday wasn’t an appropriate time to celebrate with him at the White House.
"They did not care about the gravity of the situation, about the calls from political leaders to remove Trump by impeachment or the 25th Amendment.
"No. They willingly chose to accept an award from Trump and be seen with him a day after his words and actions launched one of the most shameful incidents in U.S. history.
"As representatives of their game, and as business people who benefit greatly from it, their reputations are sullied forever."

I agree with all of the above. Player should know better from his experience of apartheid. Sorenstam has just been made president of the International Golf Federation. She hasn't kicked off her tenure in the best possible light.

Player's acceptance of the medal won't surprise many; he's never been backwards about coming forwards into the limelight. However, Sorenstam's decision to ignore the previous day's lawlessness is disappointing. She's done great things in her career. This wasn't one of them. She should have told Trump where he could pin his medal.

#JustSaying: "If I swung the gavel like I swung a golf club, the nation would be in a hell of a mess."Former House of Representatives speaker Tip O'Neill


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