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President Trump presented Tiger Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the White House Rose Garden Monday, calling the champion golfer "a global symbol of American excellence, devotion and drive."
Trump, an avid golfer who played with Woods at the president's golf club in Florida this past February, also referred to Woods as "a true legend, an extraordinary athlete who has transformed golf and achieved new levels of dominance."
"He's also a great person. He's a great guy," Trump added.
During the ceremony, the president recounted highlights of Woods' career in detailed, sometimes flowery language as the 43-year-old stood stoically beside him. At one point, Trump recognized Woods' mother, girlfriend, children and caddie, all of whom were in attendance.
Woods is the fourth golfer to receive the Medal of Freedom. Then-President George W. Bush presented the honor to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Then-President Barack Obama gave the Medal of Freedom to Charlie Sifford, the first African-American to join the PGA Tour, in 2014.
Trump announced that Woods would receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom last month after Woods won the Masters Tournament. It was the 43-year-old Woods' first victory at Augusta National since 2005 and his first major title since 2008.
Trump is an avid golfer who played with Woods at Trump's golf club in Jupiter, Florida, in February. The two are also business associates. Golfers at Trump's club in Doral, Fla., can stay at the Tiger Woods Villa. At a ribbon cutting ceremony in 2014, Woods lavished praise on the future presidential candidate, calling changes he made to the club "phenomenal."
In Dubai, Woods designed an 18-hole course to be managed by The Trump Organization.
The Trump Organization has "repeatedly demonstrated their ability to successfully manage unique, high-end courses and golf clubs, and this is no exception," Woods said in a 2018 interview in the company's in-house magazine.
Trump has used Woods' cachet to attract fans to his properties for decades. Trump got Woods to show up at his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, N.J., a day after the golfer's first Masters victory in 1997. Two thousand fans showed up as Woods walked down a 320-foot red carpet, some of them storming steel barricades to get a closer look.
Some critics have blasted Woods over his links with Trump since the real estate mogul was elected president in November 2016.
"He's the president of the United States. You have to respect the office," Woods told reporters in August 2018 when asked about his relationship with Trump. "No matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office."
The Medal of Freedom ceremony was the second sports-related event to be held at the White House Monday. Earlier in the day, Trump presented the Commander in Chief's Trophy to the Army football team to mark its wins over Air Force and Navy this past season.
This is a developing story, check back for more updates.
Fox News' Ryan Gaydos and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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