Annika Sörenstam has offered no apology for accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the wake of the Capitol riots ©Getty Images

International Golf Federation (IGF) President Annika Sörenstam has defended her decision to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from departing United States President Donald Trump – a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol.

Speaking to the Golf Channel, Sörenstam of Sweden described the riots on January 6 as a "dark day in America’s history" as five people lost their lives.

But the 10-time major winner admitted she wasn’t going to "second guess" the chance to accept the award which she was set to receive in March 2020 only for the coronavirus pandemic to force the ceremony to be postponed.

South Africa’s Gary Player, who won nine major titles in his golf career, also received the honour, while Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to American Babe Zaharias.

Zaharias died of cancer at the age of 45 in 1956 after winning 10 golf majors and two athletics medals at the Los Angeles 1932 Olympic Games.

Sörenstam, Player and Zaharias join Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Charlie Sifford, and Tiger Woods as the only golfers to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"I have always viewed it [the medal] in the context of the people through history who have received it," Sörenstam said.

"It started in 1963 and it’s quite the impressive list of people - whether that’s through science, art, entertainment or sport.

"It’s really about people that make this world a better place.

"I’m not one to second-guess.

"It [the ceremony] was supposed to be in March 2020.

"Looking back at it, it’s really about the people who have received it through history.

Annika Sörenstam described the Capitol riots by Donald Trump supporters as a
Annika Sörenstam described the Capitol riots by Donald Trump supporters as a "dark day in America’s history" ©Getty Images

"I don’t want to spend energy looking back.

"I want to spend energy looking forward, continuing to open doors and create opportunities for young girls around the world."

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is typically awarded to individuals the President considers to have made "especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavours."

A spokesperson from the White House described Sörenstam as an "athlete, philanthropist, and entrepreneur" who "committed her life to winning".

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick refused to accept the award due to the "tragic events" at the Capitol.

As a result of the riots, Trump became the first President in US history to be impeached for a second time.

"I share the sadness and the fear with everyone," said Sörenstam on the Capitol riots.

"What happened at the Capitol was a dark day in America’s history."

When asked whether she regretted accepting the award in the wake of the rampage, Sörenstam said: "Again, looking back, I don’t second-guess.

"I like to look forward and not spend energy on what could have been.

"It’s all about opening doors.

"I’ve heard from a lot of people. As you can imagine, a lot of opinions, a lot of comments and I hear clearly what those people say.

"I know they see it differently.

"I listen and embrace them all. It’s really important to listen."

Sörenstam became IGF President this month, succeeding Peter Dawson, who stepped down from the position after 10 years.