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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Chaos at the PGA Championship: Here’s What We Know

  • Scottie Scheffler was arrested and released before his second round Friday.
  • That led to one of the wildest days at a major championship in years.
The Courier-Journal

Scottie Scheffler was two strokes off the lead when he finished his second round at the PGA Championship on Friday afternoon. But the No. 1 golfer in the world nearly didn’t make it to Valhalla Golf Club earlier in the morning, in what would have been a major blow to the second major championship, fans paying $250 for general admission tickets in Louisville, and the tournament’s broadcast partners at ESPN and CBS.

Tragedy and Confusion

It’s been a chaotic, traumatic day in Kentucky, and there are still plenty of questions and unresolved matters. But here’s what happened:

  • Early Friday morning, a worker for a PGA Championship vendor was struck and killed by a shuttle bus outside Valhalla Golf Club.
  • As a result, the second round was delayed about an hour and a half, and both fans and players dealt with huge traffic delays.
  • While Scheffler was driving to the course, he was stopped and arrested after driving past a police officer (more details on that here).
  • Despite the incident and being charged on four accounts, including second-degree assault of a police officer, which is a felony, Scheffler was released from custody and teed off on time at 10:08 a.m. ET.

Legal Battle Ensuing?

While statements from Scheffler and his attorney (who he hired Friday in Louisville) say that everything was a misunderstanding, the Louisville Metro Police Department has so far taken the opposite approach. Scheffler was also charged with third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving, and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic. The official police report painted Scheffler in an extremely negative light, and even included a line about the arresting officer’s pants: They were valued at $80 and “damaged beyond repair.”

It’s unclear what transpired after Scheffler was detained, but New York–based criminal defense lawyer Roger V. Archibald tells Front Office Sports the golfer’s release “was laser fast” for someone who was charged with a felony. “Maybe they get out early in the afternoon, maybe they get out before lunchtime, but certainly not in an hour.”

Scheffler is scheduled to be arraigned in Louisville on Tuesday morning. While he said he couldn’t comment on the specifics of his case after his round, Scheffler admitted he was rattled and his head was still spinning. “I did spend some time stretching in a jail cell—that was a first,” he said. 

Unfolding Live on TV

ESPN reporter Jeff Darlington, who is covering the PGA Championship on-site, broke the news of Scheffler’s arrest this morning. And the network dropped everything to cover the developing story. Darlington retold his account of the arrest multiple times on ESPN and ESPN+ before and even as second-round play began.

It will be interesting to see what ESPN’s viewership numbers for Friday’s coverage of the PGA Championship end up being. Scheffler dominated headlines on both sports-focused and non-sports websites, as well as social media, for the majority of the day—all before other golf heavyweights like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and first-round leader Xander Schauffele teed off in the afternoon. CBS has third- and final-round coverage over the weekend, as Scheffler looks to stay atop the leaderboard while his situation off the course plays out, too.

Scheffler was escorted from jail back to the course by one of the co-owners of Valhalla Golf Club. Once on the links, he had plenty of support from the crowd Friday. Many spectators were seen wearing T-shirts that read “Free Scottie” or had a picture of his mugshot—not to mention the fans walking around in orange jumpsuits to mark the occasion. Those shirts were being sold in parking lots near the PGA Championship for as little as $10.

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