Swedish women’s golf icon Annika Sorenstam has been bombarded online after she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump a day after the US Capitol was gripped by violent disorder.

Sorenstam – a 10-time Major champion – was honored alongside South African men’s great Gary Player in a ceremony at the White House on Thursday which was held without the press in attendance.

American women’s star Babe Didrikson Zaharias was also given the honor posthumously, having died in 1956 at the age of 45 after winning 10 Majors as well as two track and field gold medals at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

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Men’s icon Player was also honored by Trump. © Reuters



Golf fanatic Trump has played rounds with both Player and Sorenstam, who joined an elite band of golfers to receive the presidential accolade alongside Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Charlie Sifford and Tiger Woods.

In the wake of the violence on Wednesday, when pro-Trump supporters took over the US Capitol in Washington DC, venting their anger at the alleged rigging of the presidential election, the 50-year-old Sorenstam was hit with an inevitable backlash on social media when the official account for her foundation shared the news of her award on Twitter.

“If you were a person of integrity, you would not go to the White House today to accept a tainted award from a madman,” fumed one fan.

“As a Swedish person I have been very proud of Annika for many years for her achievements in golf. But when she is accepting this from Trump she totally throw away all respect among everyone I know. For all time. Would she accept an award from Hitler?” added another.

Others tagged golf sponsors Callaway in a seeming attempt to land Sorenstam in trouble.

“Doesn’t Annika understand what it means to receive a medal from the most dangerous man in the world in this terrible moment of domestic terror lead by Trump? It’s a very bad choice both for you and Sweden. Please do the right thing,” read another reply.

“Don’t stain your image with Golfers just to get a pat on the head from a Dictator,” raged another golf fan, while some even suggested that Sorenstam was guilty of supporting “insurrection” through mere association with Trump.

“Ew. Maybe she should stay home after the actions of Trump* yesterday. Unless she, too, is a supporter of insurrection” they wrote. 

In a high-minded piece on USA Today, Christine Brennan claimed Sorenstam and Player had “shamed” the sport of golf by Trump.

Perhaps wishing to avoid the same kind of rebuke, nine-time Major winner Player opted against sharing the news of his honor with his 429,000 followers on Twitter.

Thursday’s award recipients were announced last March, but the ceremony was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Trump has just under two weeks left in office before he formally hands over power to President-elect Joe Biden.    

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Nicklaus and Trump pictured in 2015. © Reuters
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