Scheffler arrested, released and stays in the mix on a memorable day at the PGA Championship

Emily Ferrando wears a T-shirt she bought in the parking lot in support of Scottie Scheffler during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Matt York)


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Scottie Scheffler was in handcuffs before dawn in the back of a police car. His warmup routine began in a jail cell. And some six hours later, Scheffler remarkably signed for a 5-under 66 and was right in the mix Friday at the PGA Championship.

Collin Morikawa set the early pace with five straight birdies that carried him to a 65. Xander Schauffele, fresh off his record start of 62, was not letting up in a bid to beat darkness. Tiger Woods had two triple bogeys and was headed toward a short stay at Valhalla.

Those were mere footnotes on a day that was beyond belief.

“I feel like my head is still spinning,” Scheffler said.

The world’s No. 1 player and Masters champion was driving to Valhalla about 6 a.m. when he ran into traffic, unaware police were investigating a pedestrian — John Mills, who worked for a vendor at the tournament — being struck and killed by a shuttle bus.

Scheffler was arrested for failing to follow police instructions. The arrest report indicated a Louisville Metro police officer was dragged to the ground as Scheffler’s car drove by, causing swelling and abrasions on the officer’s left wrist. Scheffler said it was a “chaotic situation” and he never intended to disregard the police instructions. “A big misunderstanding,” he said.

“I can’t imagine what they’re going through. I feel for them,” he said of the victim’s family. “My situation will get handled.”

Scheffler was handcuffed and arrested for second-degree felony assault and three other charges. The winner of a Masters green jacket posed for a mug shot wearing orange jail garb. He could see from the holding cell video of his arrest on ESPN.

His heart was racing and his body was shaking.

“I did spend some time stretching in a jail cell. That was a first for me,” Scheffler said. “I was just sitting there waiting and I started going through my warmup. I felt like there was a chance I may be able to still come out here and play. I started going through my routine and I tried to get my heart rate down as much as I could today.

“I was fortunate to be able to make it back out and play some golf today.”

Not just any golf. He hit a wedge to 3 feet for birdie on his first hole. He was solid from tee-to-green, made a few putts and had a round that ranked among his best under the circumstances.

“As far as best rounds of my career, I would say it was pretty good,” Scheffler said. “I definitely never imagined ever going to jail, and I definitely never imagined going to jail the morning before one of my tee times for sure.”

He practiced a bit after his round, signed a few autographs and was trying to get back into a routine to prepare for what Scheffler expects to be a grind.

That much was evident by the scores. Valhalla is soft and defenseless, and hardly any wind made it even easier.

Morikawa posted from the morning wave at 11-under 131, and Schauffele had moved past him has he headed to the back nine.

Scheffler was at 133 along with Thomas Detry (67) and Mark Hubbard, who had three bogeys and three birdies over his last seven holds in a round of 68.

Hubbard got some attention early Friday with a post to X that referenced Scheffler’s police report, including a listed weight of 170 pounds.

“Scottie’s bigger than me, there’s no way he’s 170,” Hubbard said after his round. “Like, I got to get in the gym and stop eating so much of my kids’ leftover mac and cheese.”

But then he turned serious, as so many other players did, expressing shock over seeing Scheffler in handcuffs and sadness for Mills, the 69-year-old victim.

“I thought the saddest part was that the whole thing was about Scottie getting arrested and all that — and like I said, I’m glad he’s doing OK and everything — but I mean, someone died this morning, and we were out there on the course. I bet 90% of the people out here don’t even know that happened.

“That’s not Scottie’s fault at all, but that was the real tragedy today.”

Austin Eckroat, who won his first PGA Tour title earlier this year at the Cognizant Classic, got out of his car in traffic and walked the rest of the way. His wife took the car and later returned. He fashioned another 67 and was in the group at 8-under 134.

“I pulled up the local news station trying to figure out what was going on, and the first thing I saw was Scottie had been put in handcuffs,” Eckroat said. “And I was like, ‘What in the world is going on?’ It was a weird morning.”

The only normalcy was the golf. Schauffele is still going strong. Morikawa keeps moving closer to the form that brought him two majors. And Scheffler still looks like the player to beat.

He couldn’t discuss many details of the arrest for legal reasons. In the three hours he spent away from the course, Scheffler had three wardrobe changes — gym clothes, jail garb and golf clothes — took a mug shot and hired an attorney. He got back to Valhalla 56 minutes before his tee time.

And the cheers and support for him were never louder or unusual, especially the chants of “Free Scottie!” and quickly fashioned T-shirts that said the same.

“I’ve kept myself in the tournament now with a pretty chaotic day, so I’m going to go from here and focus on getting some rest and recovery and get ready for a grind the last two days,” Scheffler said.


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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf