After Scottie Scheffler’s arrest, a hectic 88 minutes — then a tee time

scottie scheffler soon after arriving at the pga championship friday

Scottie Scheffler arrives late to the PGA Championship after being arrested early Friday morning.

getty images

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Scottie Scheffler’s white Nike cleats sat atop his gym bag at the foot of his locker Friday. It was 9 a.m. at Valhalla Golf Club, 12 minutes after his originally scheduled tee time. His caddie, Ted Scott, milled about. His coach, Randy Smith, arrived to check in. Scheffler himself had been delayed for a reason that no one could wrap their heads around: He had been arrested by Louisville police.

The details of how and why Scheffler was detained Friday will be settled in court; his arraignment already is set for Tuesday morning. Scheffler said in a statement that his arrest had resulted from “a very chaotic situation,” but that he was hopeful to return his focus to the golf. Ultimately, a stunning image was attached to the news: the World No. 1’s mug shot, taken before 8 a.m. on the second day of a major championship. In this moment, though, there was some sense of relief. Scheffler was going to make it to Valhalla for the second round of the PGA Championship.

Out on the course, there was confusion. Golf fans had woken up to the most bizarre visual — Scheffler, in workout clothes, hands cuffed behind his back, being guided toward a police car. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington had coincidentally been in the area to see the incident and caught Scheffler’s arrest on camera.

Inside the locker room, players went about their business, because, well, they had work to do. But, of course, one story was on players’ minds. “That all better get dropped,” Rickie Fowler said to his caddie, Ricky Romano. Fowler was a fair representation of the mood in the locker room — some combination of disbelief, relief and sympathy toward Scheffler that his tournament had been turned on its head. The PGA Tour is often likened to a fraternity.

To understand how the craziness ensued you must first understand Shelbyville Road, a five-lane extension of Highway 60 that runs along Valhalla’s southern boarder. Access to the grounds this week has been restricted almost entirely to that road. The two outer lanes have been shut down for police traffic and also pedestrians on foot. The inner-most lane has been used for turning vehicles, busses, shuttles, etc. — all at the direction of local authorities. The system has led to severe traffic backups most of the week — nothing new for major golf tournaments — but became even more congested after an event worker had been fatally struck by a shuttle bus shortly after 5 a.m. Competitors awoke to an email instructing them to access the course exclusively from the west side of the property. Traffic eventually grew so heavy that (1) multiple players were seen exiting vehicles and walking through the gate, and (2) the tournament issued an 80-minute delay for tee times.

The latter was just enough to secure Scheffler’s chances of competing, his 8:48 start pushed back to 10:08. His incident with police occurred shortly after 6 a.m. He was booked by the Louisville Metro Dept. of Corrections at 7:28 a.m. and released at 8:40 a.m. Shortly after 9, a black Range Rover carrying Jimmy Kirchdorfer Jr., chairman of the event and part-owner of Valhalla, drove through the entrance and pulled up to the clubhouse. Scheffler popped out the back seat. His tee time was 56 minutes away.

Scottie Scheffler arrives to the course during the second round of PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 17, 2024 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Why was Scottie Scheffler arrested? Here’s what police say happened
By: Alan Bastable

Professionals live by defined, strict schedules. Two hours often is the minimum amount of prep time required to ready their swings, bodies and minds. (Which explains why Scheffler was arriving at Valhalla nearly three hours before his original start time.) Following a quick breakfast, Scheffler reached the locker room. He looked cheery, smiling wide. He paused for a quick embrace with his best Tour pal, Sam Burns, who was getting ready for his own tee time, and another with Emiliano Grillo. Then came an abbreviated 10-minute stretching session with Marnus Marais, Scheffler’s physio, in the back of the locker room, before lacing up his Nikes and setting out into the rain, 35 minutes before his new tee time. 

Among the last people Scheffler saw before leaving the clubhouse were his parents, who were understandably a bit shaken by what they woke up to Friday morning. But they were there to watch their son compete, like they are most weeks. As Scottie left the locker room to continue his warmup, his father, Scott — a deeply faithful man — said aloud to the group that there was a reason why this had happened. He didn’t know that reason but his son would be better for it. 

Scheffler soon found himself in a familiar position. Fowler dapped him up as he walked by the putting green, and in a few minutes he was back on the driving range. The same place he had been 13 hours earlier, when he was the last player on the property, grinding under floodlights on the range, frustrated by something much simpler: the transition of his backswing. Maybe two dozen people watched then, but every golf fan in the world was curious now. Players on the putting green stopped as he walked by. Others, down the range, looked on. ESPN streamed his warmup live on SportsCenter and ESPN+, complete with a countdown clock. Dozens of camera operators squeezed in on, lest you forgot, one of this tournament’s contenders. Scheffler had shot four under in the first round was just five shots back of the lead.

Scheffler’s team had planned to keep the pre-round session as routine as possible, just truncated. They wanted to help settle his emotions, but it’s not clear if much settling was required. Scheffler’s mood appeared light. He looked gracious — his typical self — despite all the media, fans and others surrounding him, whispering about him and his morning. A few wedges, then the irons, then the driver. Brendon Todd, a Tour friend, stepped in for a hug. “It’s great to see you, buddy,” Todd said. “It’s great to see you, too,” Scheffler said.

Twenty or so minutes of range time, four bunker shots and a dozen putts. A brief moment of levity arrived as a child asked Scheffler for his autograph. “Sorry, buddy,” Scheffler said with a smile through the ring of cameramen. “I have to go tee off. I like your shirt, though.” 

At the end of Scheffler’s 150-yard, uphill walk to the 10th tee, one of his playing partners — Wyndham Clark — and thousands of spectators were waiting. Scheffler turned onto the tee box and the crowd began chanting his name. He missed the fairway with his opening blast but still made birdie.

Sean Zak Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just finished a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews.

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