Advertisement

Jail time and a divorcee: Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy’s surreal week at US PGA

Scottie Scheffler walks off the 18th green during the final round of the 2024 US PGA Championship
Scottie Scheffler was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer just hours before his second round at the US PGA Championship - Getty Images/Ross Kinnaird

It was a familiarly brilliant score of 65 for Scottie Scheffler at the US PGA Championship, but this was a highly unusual week for the world No 1. And despite the rousing finale, it was not a normal result for the American either.

A closing round that began with a bogey but featured seven birdies thereafter, hurtled the 27-year-old to 13 under and into the top 10. It was a superb comeback after a 73 on Saturday that essentially took him out of contention. But still, this was the first time in three months that Scheffler has not finished in the top two.

“I think ‘hectic’ would probably be a good description of this week,” he said. “Overall right now I’m feeling tired, definitely a lot more tired than I have been finishing some other tournaments. But I’m proud of today how we went out there and fought.”

Scheffler arrived at Valhalla having won four of his past five events – including the Masters four weeks ago – and having finished runner-up in the other. He was a huge favourite, regardless of the fact that he took three weeks in the build-up to welcome the arrival of his first child.

Yet what happened here on Friday has already passed into folklore of the game of golf and the Louisville police department.

Scheffler is still waiting to discover if he will have to stand trial accused of assaulting a police officer. The whispers in the locker room are that the charges – or at least the substantive indictment that would represent a felony if he is found guilty and carries the risk of a maximum prison sentence of 10 years – will be dropped in the coming days.

‘I just hope I can get home’

“It’s all up in the air,” Scheffler said, after signing his card. “I’m not really sure what the next days have in store. I just hope I can get home.”

To recount, in unprecedented scenes, Scheffler was arrested and taken to a police station where he was put in an orange jumpsuit before rushing back to the course to make his second-round tee-time.

Somehow, he managed to shoot a 66 that morning in the wake of being accused of dragging an officer along the ground in his car after trying to circumnavigate ­traffic congestion caused by the earlier fatality of John Mills, a security guard working at the event who was hit by a shuttle bus.

Scheffler and his legal team insist it was “a big misunderstanding” and they are certain he will be exonerated. Scheffler was shaking in the cell of a police station, however, as he was waiting to be ­processed and although he coped with the effects during the second round, he claimed to have experienced a delayed reaction on Saturday.

That two-over mediocrity basically did for his hopes of winning a third major and underlining his current superiority, but Scheffler clearly has bigger concerns. His lawyers maintain that he will not be entering a plea deal to settle for a lesser charge and that even if he is hit with a minor traffic violation, they will take it to court. The case is due to be heard in Louisville on Tuesday and, as of Sunday, it was still not known if Scheffler will have to attend.

He is due to play in the first round of the Colonial tournament in his home state of Texas on Thursday, but this saga could force his withdrawal.

There are only three weeks before the US Open at Pinehurst in North Carolina and Scheffler will be desperate to clear this up before then.

Rory McIlroy watches his tee shot on the fifth hole during the final round of the PGA Championship
Rory McIlroy shot a 67 to finish on 12 under - AP/Jon Cherry

At least he “beat” world No 2 Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman, who won the US PGA last time it was played here at Valhalla in 2014, shot a 67 to finish on 12 under. It was also a tumultuous week for McIlroy, who filed court papers at the start of the week to divorce Erica, his wife of seven years and the mother of their three-year-old daughter Poppy. In the light of that upheaval, this display was not the worst.

“Obviously, I started the week well [with a 66] and then played decent over the weekend, but the 71 on Friday was not what I was looking for,” McIlroy said. “I put myself too far back. But I’m playing solid, game is in good shape, and I’ve got a week off and then another busy stretch coming up.”

McIlroy is due to tee it up at the Canadian Open a week on Thursday, followed by the Memorial and then the US Open. He has two more majors this year to avoid his barren run from completing the full decade.

In his role as Europe Ryder Cup captain, Luke Donald will be pleased by McIlroy’s form and indeed of the likes of Shane Lowry, Justin Rose, Viktor Hovland and Bob MacIntyre, who were in the mix as the season’s second major approached its denouement.

Donald, himself, made his first major cut in five years, finishing on two under after a 71. That was better than Jon Rahm, the Spaniard who crashed out on level par on Friday. Rahm has not won in 13 months, since last year’s Masters, having finished in a tie for 45th in his Augusta defence last month.

However, Donald, insists he has no worries about the world No 5, who jumped ship to LIV in a deal believed to be worth £400 million at the start of this year.

“Jon’s record speaks for itself,” Donald said. “His results on LIV haven’t been terrible, a lot of top 10s. I know he hasn’t won, but I’m not too concerned. Form is more important to me leading up to a Ryder Cup, not 15, 16 months out.”

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.