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Police assault charges dropped against top golfer Scheffler

Scottie Scheffler of the United States walks off the 18th green during the final round of the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 19, 2024 (ROSS KINNAIRD)
Scottie Scheffler of the United States walks off the 18th green during the final round of the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 19, 2024 (ROSS KINNAIRD)

Prosecutors in Kentucky on Wednesday dropped all charges against top-ranked golfer Scottie Scheffler, who was arrested after allegedly ignoring police at a traffic stop outside the US PGA Championship.

Scheffler, 27, was handcuffed and led away by officers in the pre-dawn incident on May 17, before having his mugshot taken in an orange jumpsuit and then returning from jail to the Valhalla course and teeing off for his second round.

Scheffler allegedly drove onto a curb near the course entrance after police set up a traffic stop due to a separate road accident in which a local man working at the tournament had been killed.

A police report said Scheffler had disobeyed orders to stop his car and accelerated, dragging to the ground police officer Bryan Gillis, who was hospitalized with bruising and swelling. Attorneys for Scheffler denied Gillis was dragged by the golfer's vehicle.

On Wednesday, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell lodged a motion in court to dismiss all charges against Scheffler and the judge agreed.

O'Connell told the court that the evidence against Scheffler did not meet the standard of probable cause.

"Based on the totality of the evidence my office cannot move forward in the prosecution of the charges filed against Mr Scheffler," O'Connell said.

Scheffler meanwhile reacted with relief in a statement posted on Instagram.

"I hold no ill will toward Officer Gillis. I wish to put this incident behind me and move on, and I hope he will do the same," Scheffler said.

"Police officers have a difficult job and I hold them in high regard. This was a severe miscommunication in a chaotic situation."

- 'Big misunderstanding' -

Scheffler had been charged with felony assault on a police officer, criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from an officer directing traffic.

His lawyer Steve Romines denied any wrongdoing, adding Scheffler was driving a marked player's vehicle when he received conflicting signals from police officers at the traffic control.

Romines had stressed that his client would fight the charges and was "not interested in any sort of settlement negotiations or anything."

On the morning of his arrest, world number-one Scheffler released a statement saying "there was a big misunderstanding of what I thought I was being asked to do."

O'Connell told the court in Louisville that Scheffler's claim of misunderstanding "is corroborated by the evidence."

Fans cheered as Scheffler walked onto the course and gave him a standing ovation before he struck his first shot.

Current Masters champion Scheffler, who finished the US PGA tournament in a four-way tie for eighth place, said the day after his arrest "I was shaking. I would say in shock and in fear."

The officer who arrested Scheffler was reprimanded for not turning on his body-worn camera during the arrest, the local police chief said this week.

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