Scottie Scheffler arrested in alleged assault on police officer outside PGA Championship, then returns to ‘play some golf’

The world’s top-ranked golfer, Scottie Scheffler, was arrested, charged with felony assault and released from jail before shooting a stellar 5-under par at the PGA Championship on Friday in a whirlwind few hours that upended the typically staid world of professional golf.

“I feel like my head is still spinning. I can’t really explain what happened this morning. I did spend some time stretching in a jail cell. That’s a first for me,” Scheffler said Friday afternoon. “I was fortunate to be able to make it back out and play some golf today.”

Scheffler, 27, was attempting to drive to the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, for the second round of the tournament at about 6 a.m. when he came to the scene of a fatal crash. He allegedly injured a police officer who was directing traffic and was then detained and arrested, according to police.

Scheffler was charged with felony second-degree assault on a police officer, along with lesser charges of third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from officers directing traffic, according to Jefferson County court records.

He was released from jail and returned to the golf course for his tee time. Shortly after 10 a.m., he struck his first tee shot of the day, earning a round of applause from the crowd, and birdied the first hole.

Scheffler began Friday tied for 12th place at 4-under par. After his arrest, he shot 5-under par in the second round and was tied for third place when he finished play.

The arrest of the World No. 1 golfer – known as an “upright, outstanding” player who became a father just days ago – dramatically shook up one of golf’s major tournaments. Scheffler won his second Masters title last month and was the overwhelming favorite in the PGA Championship.

Star golfer Scottie Scheffler was arrested, had his mugshot taken, was charged with four crimes and then released on Friday morning prior to the start of the PGA Championship. - Louisville Dept. of Corrections
Star golfer Scottie Scheffler was arrested, had his mugshot taken, was charged with four crimes and then released on Friday morning prior to the start of the PGA Championship. - Louisville Dept. of Corrections
After his arrest, Scottie Scheffler warmed up before the second round of the PGA Championship on Friday. - Sue Ogrocki/AP
After his arrest, Scottie Scheffler warmed up before the second round of the PGA Championship on Friday. - Sue Ogrocki/AP

Scheffler’s attorney told CNN he plans to plead not guilty to the charges. In a statement, Scheffler called the incident a “big misunderstanding.”

“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 said in a statement on Instagram. “I never intended to disregard any of the instructions. I’m hopeful to put this to the side and focus on golf today.”

Speaking after his round, Scheffler declined to comment further on the specifics of what led to the arrest but said he believed it would be “resolved fairly quickly.”

Scheffler said he was “pretty rattled” by the arrest and that his heart rate was up during play. Still, he praised the officers at the jail, who he said made jokes while he was fingerprinted, and said he was grateful for the police.

What led to the arrest

The incident began when Scheffler drove to the Valhalla Golf Club for the second round of the tournament around 6 a.m., according to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, who witnessed and filmed the arrest.

Earlier in the morning, a pedestrian had been fatally struck by a bus while trying to cross the main road leading to the course, Louisville Metro Police Department spokesperson Dwight Mitchell said. Because of that, there was an increased police presence around the course’s entrance.

When Scheffler arrived in a marked player courtesy vehicle, he tried to drive around the crash scene on a median, according to ESPN, which first reported Scheffler’s detention. “A police officer instructed Scheffler to stop, but Scheffler continued to drive about 10 to 20 yards toward the entrance,” ESPN said.

“Scheffler then stopped his vehicle at the entrance to Valhalla. The police officer then began to scream at Scheffler to get out of the car. When Scheffler exited the vehicle, the officer shoved Scheffler against the car and immediately placed him in handcuffs,” Darlington posted on X.

Police escorted a handcuffed Scheffler into a police vehicle, Darlington’s video shows.

“Right now he’s going to jail,” an officer at the scene says in the video.

According to a Louisville Metro Police report, Scheffler was trying to gain access to the golf course when he was stopped by an officer wearing a full police uniform and a yellow reflective rain jacket. The officer, identified as Det. Bryan Gillis, stopped Scheffler and attempted to give instructions.

“Subject refused to comply and accelerated forward, dragging Detective Gillis to the ground,” the report states.

The detective suffered pain, swelling and abrasions to his left wrist and knee and was taken to the hospital for further treatment, the report states. His uniform pants, valued at about $80, “were damaged beyond repair,” the report adds.

In a statement Saturday, Louisville police echoed what Mayor Craig Greenberg previously told CNN Saturday, saying there is no body camera footage showing the arrest of Scheffler. There is also no body cam video showing the beginning of the interaction, the mayor previously said.

“The incident is under review internally and will proceed through the judicial process. We would like to restate that all parties involved are fully cooperating. LMPD is committed to a thorough investigation for all involved,” the agency told CNN on Saturday.

Meanwhile, other camera angles of the incident and arrest are still being reviewed by officials, Greenberg told CNN. It is not clear whether Gillis was wearing a body camera when he stopped Scheffler and, if he was, why it was not recording.

The agency’s policy requires officers wear body cameras “when responding to any call for service … prior to arriving on-scene and exiting their vehicle.”

The LMPD did not respond to questions about whether any department policies were violated during the incident.

Attorney says Scheffler ‘did not do anything wrong’

Scheffler’s attorney, Steven Romines, told CNN in a statement Friday that Scheffler was headed to the golf course to prepare for his tee time at the PGA Championship.

“Due to the combination of event traffic and a traffic fatality in the area it was a very chaotic situation. He was proceeding as directed by another traffic officer and driving a marked player’s vehicle with credentials visible,” Romines said. “In the confusion, Scottie is alleged to have disregarded a different officer’s traffic signals resulting in these charges.”

Romines says multiple eyewitnesses have confirmed that Scheffler “did not do anything wrong” but drove as directed.

“He stopped immediately upon being directed to and never at any point assaulted any officer with his vehicle,” the statement reads. “We will plead not guilty and litigate this matter as needed.”

Scheffler’s arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.

PGA of America, the organizer of the PGA Championship, identified the pedestrian who died in the earlier crash as John Mills, a worker with a vendor for the organization.

“Our primary concern today remains with the family of John Mills, who lost his life in a tragic accident early this morning while reporting to work,” the organization said.

“As it relates to the incident involving Scottie Scheffler, we are fully cooperating as local authorities review what took place. While the legal process plays out, questions should be directed to Scheffler’s attorney or local authorities.”

In separate statements, both the Louisville mayor and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear offered condolences to the victim’s family and described the ensuing incident with Scheffler and police as “unfortunate.”

“LMPD is fully investigating this incident and the legal process will proceed. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation,” Mayor Greenberg said.

The man’s death “truly puts everything in perspective,” Scheffler said in his statement.

Scheffler became father days ago

Scheffler has been on a remarkable run of success recently and won the Masters for the second time last month. - Warren Little/Getty Images
Scheffler has been on a remarkable run of success recently and won the Masters for the second time last month. - Warren Little/Getty Images

Scheffler’s arrest represents a stark contrast from his clean image, said David Dusek, senior writer at Golfweek.

“Scottie Scheffler is one of the most squeaky clean, upright, outstanding, well-respected players out here on the PGA Tour,” Dusek said. “He is someone who is known for having a very calm, level head on the golf course and he keeps that when he’s off the golf course as well.”

After a stellar 2023 campaign that saw him retain the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year title, Scheffler this season has only consolidated his status as the dominant force in men’s golf. Just one week after a commanding victory at The Arnold Palmer Invitational, he mounted a stunning late charge to become the first player to ever defend The Players Championship.

Since then, the 27-year-old has looked borderline unstoppable, as victory at the RBC Heritage – just one week on from easing into his second green jacket at Augusta – made it four wins in five starts.

Scheffler last week stepped away from competitive action to be with wife Meredith as she gave birth to the couple’s first child, Bennett.

“Sitting at home with the girl I dated in high school with our child and then the Green Jacket sitting in the closet is a pretty insane feeling,” he said, “and I just wanted to be as thankful as possible.”

Following play Thursday in Louisville, Scheffler was looking ahead to trying to “clean up a few of the mistakes,” he said.

“I missed two putts I felt like I should have holed today, but that’s going to happen when the greens get a little chewed up,” he said. “I felt like there was a couple things I can clean up going into tomorrow, but overall today was a solid round.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story had the wrong last name for attorney Steve Romines.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s John Miller, David Close, Kevin Dotson, Amanda Musa, Gabe Cohen, Gloria Pazmino, Tanika Gray and Michelle Krupa contributed to this story.

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