Scottie Scheffler arrested at PGA Championship, says felony charge 'big misunderstanding' (2024)

Alexis Cubit,Ryan Black,Brooks Holton,Josh WoodLouisville Courier Journal

The world's No. 1 golfer,Scottie Scheffler, was arrested Friday morning by Louisville Metro Police after what he described as "a big misunderstanding" when he tried to enter Valhalla Golf Club to compete in the PGA Championship.

Scheffler was detained at 6:20 a.m. outside the course and booked into Metro Corrections at 7:28 a.m. on charges of second-degree assault, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from an officer directing traffic, according to his arrest citation and jail records.

Scheffler was released on personal recognizance and returned to Valhalla Golf Club not long after 9 a.m. Roughly an hour later, he teed off in the second round of the major tournament.

"I still feel like my head is spinning a little bit," Scheffler told reporters after posting a 5-under round that moved him to 9 under. "I was fortunate to be able to make it back out and play some golf today."

Second-degree assault is a Class C felony in Kentucky punishable by between five and 10 years in prison.

According to state law, assault in the second degree occurs when a person either:

  • Intentionally causes serious physical injury to another person
  • Intentionally causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
  • Wantonly causes serious physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.

Scheffler is set to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Tuesday, according to court records.

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In the arrest citation, LMPD wrote Scheffler was driving eastbound to enter Valhalla Gate 1 when he pulled into a westbound lane, "where outbound traffic was flowing," to avoid backed-up traffic.

The traffic was due to a fatal accident involving a pedestrian. Around 5 a.m., a man working security for a PGA Championship vendor, John Mills, was struck by a shuttle bus and pronounced dead at the scene.

Scheffler's tee time was initially set for 8:48 a.m., but the accident delayed the start of the second round.

Scheffler's arrest citation says LMPD Detective Bryan Gillis was "in the middle of the westbound lanes, in full LMPD uniform and a hi-visibility yellow reflective rain jacket," when he stopped the golfer and "attempted to give instructions."

Scheffler, the citation says, "refused to comply and accelerated forward, dragging Detective Gillis to the ground. Detective Gillis suffered pain, swelling, and abrasions to his left wrist and knee."

Gillis was transported to a hospital by emergency workers for treatment, the citation says. His uniform pants, which LMPD values at about $80, were "damaged beyond repair."

In a statement released Friday afternoon, LMPD said it was "in the process of conducting a thorough investigation" into the incident and "appreciative that all parties involved are fully cooperating."

The Jefferson County attorney’s office said in a statement Friday afternoon it was "still obtaining information in the case of Mr. Scheffler and will review and proceed accordingly."

Jeff Darlington, an NFL reporter for ESPN who is covering the PGA Championship, was on the scene when LMPD arrested Scheffler. He posted the following video to X, formerly Twitter, of officers leading Scheffler away from Valhalla Golf Club in handcuffs:

Louisville attorney Steve Romines, who is representing Scheffler, told The Courier Journal his client "didn't do anything wrong" and had his credentials visible inside his marked PGA player vehicle.

"He was following the instructions of another traffic control officer and trying to get into the facility to warm up and work out," Romines said.

They'll plead not guilty and litigate the matter "as needed," he added.

Romines is a high-profile attorney who represented Breonna Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, and the family of David McAtee, the barbecue chef who was killed when LMPD and the Kentucky National Guard tried to enforce a curfew in Louisville's West End amid protests over Taylor’s death.

Scheffler posted the following statement about his arrest to his Instagram story before teeing off Friday:

"This morning, I was proceeding as directed by police officers. 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," he wrote. "I never intended to disregard any of the instructions. I'm hopeful to put this to the side and focus on golf today.

"Of course, all of us involved in the tournament express our deepest sympathies to the family of the man who passed away in the earlier accident this morning. It truly puts everything in perspective."

Both Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear used the word "unfortunate" to describe what happened to Scheffler.

"It is unfortunate that an incident took place between an LMPD officer and Mr. Scheffler while he was attempting to enter Valhalla," Greenberg said in a statement. "LMPD is fully investigating this incident and the legal process will proceed. We appreciate everyone's cooperation."

Added Beshear, "The events that occurred (after the fatal collision) are the unfortunate result of this tragic incident, and we are hopeful that all parties involved can come to a resolution."

After his round Friday, Scheffler told reporters he couldn't "comment on any of the specifics" surrounding his arrest.

"My situation will get handled," he said. "It was a chaotic situation."

He did, however, praise the officers he dealt with after he was detained — both on the way to, and while he was detained at Metro Corrections — for helping calm him down.

"I'm grateful that we have such strong police; they're our protectors out there," he said. "We just got into a chaotic situation this morning. That's really all it was."

Mills' death and Scheffler's arrest led many on social media to speculate about what it will mean for Valhalla Golf Club's chances of hosting another PGA Championship.

This is the fourth time the major tournament has come to Louisville; and the city's tourism department said in a statement it "remains committed" to ensuring it won't be the last.

"Louisville has a longstanding track record of successfully hosting world-class sporting events. Sports are simply in the DNA of the city, and the amount of sports-related events we host is a testament to that," the statement says. "Beyond that, we know our community takes great pride in these events and consistently shows up to passionately support them. We hear this time and time again from the groups that have selected Louisville as a venue.

"While we can't lose sight of this morning's tragic loss of life, Louisville Tourism remains committed to working with our many city partners to continue to bring sports tourism to the city."

A 27-year-old New Jersey native, Scheffler is attempting to become the first golfer since Jordan Spieth in 2015 to start a year with back-to-back major championship victories.

He entered the PGA Championship as the oddsmakers' overwhelming favorite, having won four of his last five PGA Tour events — including this year's Masters.

Scheffler is only the third PGA Tour player in the past 30 years — Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh are the others — with a stretch of five consecutive top-two finishes.

Bailey Loosemore contributed to this report.

Reach Louisville football, women's basketball and baseball beat writer Alexis Cubit at acubit@gannett.com and follow her on X at @Alexis_Cubit. Reach Kentucky men’s basketball and football reporter Ryan Black at rblack@gannett.com and follow him on X at @RyanABlack. Reach Louisville men's basketball reporter Brooks Holton at bholton@gannett.com and follow him on X at @brooksHolton. Reach reporter Josh Wood at jwood@courier-journal.com or on X at @JWoodJourno.

Scottie Scheffler arrested at PGA Championship, says felony charge 'big misunderstanding' (2024)
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