Scottie Scheffler, world’s No. 1 golfer, arrested outside PGA Championship

Click to play video: 'Golf pro Scottie Scheffler says arrest ahead of PGA Championship was big misunderstanding'
Golf pro Scottie Scheffler says arrest ahead of PGA Championship was big misunderstanding
WATCH: The planet's best male golfer traded his clubs for a pair of handcuffs today. On what was supposed to be a routine drive to work, Masters Tournament champion Scottie Scheffler ended up under arrest — over what the golfer is calling a big misunderstanding. Eric Sorenson reports – May 17, 2024

Masters champion and world No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler was arrested by police Friday while on the way to the PGA Championship, after he failed to follow police orders during an investigation into a pedestrian fatality.

The incident took place outside the entrance to Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., around 6 a.m. ET, shortly after a man was struck and killed by a shuttle bus.

Police had stopped traffic, resulting in a sea of red and blue flashing lights.

ESPN reporter Jeff Darlington, who witnessed the incident, said Scheffler was attempting to drive around the scene of the crash using a median when an officer ordered him to stop. Scheffler, Darlington said, continued to drive slowly toward Valhalla’s entrance.

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Darlington, posting to X, detailed a dramatic scene, writing that “the police officer attempted to attach himself to Scheffler’s car, and Scheffler then stopped his vehicle at the entrance to Valhalla.”

The officer, wrote Darlington, then “began to scream” at the golfer to get out of his car. When Scheffler complied, the officer “shoved Scheffler against the car and immediately placed him in handcuffs.”

Scheffler’s lawyer, Steve Romines, says the arrest was “a big misunderstanding.”

“We will litigate the case as it goes,” Romines told The Associated Press.

In the three hours that followed, Scheffler was detained, taken to the local jail for a mug shot in an orange jail uniform, and released. He was back at Valhalla in golf clothes with just under an hour before the tournament’s second round began.

Police said Scheffler now faces four charges: second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

“The main thing is he was proceeding exactly as he was directed in a marked vehicle with credentials,” Romines told AP. “He didn’t do anything intentionally wrong.”

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Darlington told ESPN he was standing at the entrance when Scheffler was detained. He said Scheffler turned to him and asked, “Can you help?

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“You need to get out of the way,” the officer told Darlington, and asked him to back away. “Right now, he’s going to jail, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Darlington shared video of the moment Scheffler was taken away by police.

The sports reporter said another police officer later approached with a notepad and asked if he knew the name of the person they put in handcuffs.

Romines told ESPN that Scheffler was just doing as he was told, unaware of the accident, and that the arresting officer wasn’t part of the regular traffic detail posted outside the golf club.

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“They are allowed to go through, that’s why they have the credential and the wave-through,” Romines said. “He was unaware there had been a wreck, and he proceeded like they’d been instructed to. He did exactly as he was instructed to enter the premises.”

As for the accident that occurred prior to Scheffler’s arrival at the club, Louisville Metro police spokesperson Dwight Mitchell told local radio station WHAS that a man was crossing Shelbyville Road about 5 a.m. and was struck by a shuttle bus after the driver didn’t see him. Mitchell said the unidentified man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Scottie Scheffler hits his tee shot on the 10th hole during the second round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Friday, May 17, 2024 in Louisville, Ky. Darren Carroll / PGA of America via Getty Images

Scheffler, responding to the morning’s chaos with a post on Instagram, said he never meant to “disregard any of the instructions” given by police.

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“It was a very chaotic situation, understandably so considering the tragic accident that had occurred earlier, and there was a big misunderstanding of what I thought I was being asked to do,” Scheffler wrote on the social media platform.

@scottie.scheffler / Instagram

The PGA Championship posted a notice that play would be delayed because of the accident. The second round was to start one hour, 20 minutes later than scheduled tee times, meaning Scheffler was not due to start until a little after 10 a.m.

Scottie Scheffler of the United States reacts before teeing off on the 10th tee during the second round of the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 17, 2024 in Louisville, Ky. Michael Reaves / Getty Images

Scheffler was released by police and returned to the course at 9:12 a.m. He made his way to the practice area around 9:30 a.m. and was welcomed by fans — one shouted “Free Scottie!”

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Police are reviewing cameras from the scene, a senior law enforcement official told CNN, and are expected to make a statement about the arrest later Friday.

With files from The Associated Press

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