Scottie Scheffler, 19 days after arrest, opens up about ‘recovery process’

Scottie Scheffler talks during a media press conference prior to the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday at Muirfield Village Golf Club

Scottie Scheffler speaking at the Memorial Tournament on Tuesday.

getty images

Scottie Scheffler isn’t perfect, at least not outside the ropes. He makes mistakes just like the rest of us. A speeding ticket here, a parking violation there. But 19 days after his shocking arrest outside the gates of the PGA Championship, the world’s top-ranked male golfer is still trying to come to terms with how he ended up in handcuffs in the back of a police cruiser and later taken to a Louisville jail where he was booked with four charges, including assault of a police officer.

“I think that’s part of the recovery process from the whole scenario, is your brain tries to figure out how this happened,” Scheffler said Tuesday from the Memorial Tournament, in his first extensive remarks about his arrest since PGA Championship week. “I will probably never figure out why or how this happened.”

Indeed, even two-plus weeks later, that gloomy Friday morning still feels so surreal: the shackles; the plea for help as he was led to a police car; the jail-cell stretching routine; the return to Valhalla, where, with a felony charge hanging over him, he carded a second-round four-under 66. Aaron Sorkin couldn’t have conjured such a script.

How and why did this happen? The arresting officer alleged that Scheffler, who was trying to enter the property behind the wheel of a PGA Championship courtesy vehicle, had “refused to comply” with the officer’s instructions “and accelerated forward, dragging (him) to the ground.” Scheffler called the situation a “big misunderstanding.” Video evidence was inconclusive, largely because the officer had failed to activate his body cam. An arraignment date was set and then moved. The prosecution launched an investigation. Scheffler’s own legal team readied for battle. But the war never came. Last Wednesday, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell told a judge that based upon the evidence he and his team had reviewed, his office had no grounds to prosecute.

Scheffler knew ahead of the rest of the world that the charges would be dismissed. The week after the PGA Championship, he was in Fort Worth, Tex., for the Charles Schwab Challenge, and by Friday of that week, Scheffler said Tuesday, he already had a sense for where things were headed. Scheffler’s attorney, Steve Romines, even put the good news in golf terms for his client. “From a one-foot putt,” Romines told Scheffler of the prospect of the charges going away, “to on the lip.”

Scheffler wasn’t his sharpest that week at Colonial but still managed a runner-up finish, five strokes behind Davis Riley. Then it was back home to Dallas for some much-needed rest — or at least for as much rest as a father can get with a newborn at home. In the swirl of Scheffler’s legal drama, it’s easy to forget that he and his wife, Meredith, had their first child, Bennett, on May 8. “Getting a little bit of sleep, not too much,” Scheffler said. Between diaper changes and burping sessions, Scheffler said he squeezed in some practice on his off-week but not much on account of heavy rain in the area. There also was at least one other item on his agenda: processing the madcap events of the last two weeks.

Steve Romines, legal representation for golfer Scottie Scheffler, walks away after an announcement by Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connel at Jefferson County Hall of Justice
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By: Alan Bastable

“When the charges are dropped, that’s kind of only the beginning of kind of getting past it, if that makes sense,” Scheffler said Tuesday. “So kind of operating through that now. It was definitely a bit of a relief, but not total relief because that’s something that will always, I think, kind of stick with me. That mug shot, I’m sure is not going anywhere anytime soon.”

Scheffler described the arrest as “fairly traumatic” and “not something that I love reliving.” Given the mental and emotional anguish, he was asked, had he considered suing the Louisville Metro Police Department? “For me personally, no,” Scheffler said. “That was something that if we needed to use it, I think Steve was more than ready to use that, just because, like I said, there was a ton of evidence in our favor. There [were] eyewitnesses on the scene that corroborated my story and the video evidence, the police officer talking to me after. All the evidence pointed to exactly what my side of the story was, and so if we needed to, if it — if I kind of became, like — I don’t really know how to describe it, but basically, if I had to show up in court, I think Steve was more than prepared to pursue legal action.”

Scheffler added that given reparations would in effect be paid by way of tax dollars, he didn’t want the people of Louisville to have foot the bill “for the mistakes of their police department.”

“That just doesn’t seem right,” he said.

Scheffler also has been processing something else of late, as has the rest of the golf world: the May 26 death of Grayson Murray. Murray, who was 30, withdrew from the second round at Colonial and returned home to South Florida, where he took his own life. On Tuesday, Scheffler was among a group of players who eulogized Murray in a memorial service by Muirfield Village’s 1st tee. Virtually the whole field attended. Caddies, too. Jack and Barbara Nicklaus. A bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.” Scheffler spoke of Murray’s “sweet” nature and of how he seemed to be making strides after his addiction battles and of how Scheffler wished he could have done more to help him. When he finished speaking, Scheffler retreated to Meredith and wept.

Later on Tuesday, he was asked about his memoriam. “It pains me that he’s no longer with us,” Scheffler said. “I tried to do my best to honor him today.”

A reporter then asked Scheffler about his improved putting, but Scheffler wasn’t immediately ready to talk golf.

“To be honest with you, I did not really think about that much,” he said. “We’ve had a good amount of stuff going on off the course. That’s something I also talked about this morning. I think all of us carry a lot more stuff off the golf course with us than we let on. Competing out here inside the ropes is a great joy for all of us, but life outside the ropes can be challenging.”

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.

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