By Michael Donovan
President Trump is set to seize Woods’s moment.
At the White House today, he will present Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in honor of his Masters victory last month, a stunning personal comeback that put him back on top of the sports world at age 43, after a decade-long championship drought.
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 Trump waited only a few weeks after the Masters to celebrate Woods. His rush to become part of the comeback story appeared to be a mix of hero worship and opportunism:
Trump has cheered on Woods throughout his career, and his long relationship with the golfer helps bring one of the most prominent African-American athletes to a White House that has been boycotted by many others.
But by honoring him, the president leaves the appearance of using his office to reward a business partner.
“Tiger Woods is obviously a very talented golfer,” said Aaron Scherb, the director of legislative affairs for Common Cause, a watchdog group.
But Trump awarding him the Medal of Freedom “shows he’s willing to use any tool of government to benefit his business and political allies.”
The White House defended Mr. Woods’s selection. “The president thinks Tiger is not only a tremendous athlete but also has a great comeback story,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. “He is undisputed as one of the great golfers in history and has broken barriers in the game.”