Scottie Scheffler, world's top golfer, charged with assaulting a police officer outside PGA Championship

The world's top-ranked golfer, Scottie Scheffler, was detained by police after he was accused of dragging an officer with his car Friday outside the PGA Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, according to an incident report.

Footage posted on X by ESPN's Jeff Darlington appeared to show Scheffler being led away by officers. Scheffler appears to turn to Darlington as he is being led away and asks, "Can you please help me?"

Scheffler’s attorney Steve Romines called the arrest a misunderstanding and told The Associated Press they "will litigate the case as it goes."

In an interview with NBC news from Louisville, Romines conveyed Scheffler's account of what happened Friday morning before the second round of the tournament.

Romines said officers who were investigating and handling traffic for a fatal traffic accident down the road weren’t communicating with those who were handling event traffic for the tournament.

So when Scheffler was given directions for how he should get onto the grounds to prepare for his morning rounds, which he followed, Romines said an "officer on a different unit took issue with Scottie following the directions he was given and subsequently placed him under arrest."

The incident happened before the second round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. It was set to begin at 7:15 a.m. but was delayed by more than an hour after a man was fatally struck by a shuttle bus around 5 a.m.

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg identified the man as John Mills. PGA of America said he was an employee with one of its vendors and was reporting to work.

"This is heartbreaking to all of us involved with the PGA Championship. We extend our sincere condolences to their family and loved ones," the organization said in a statement.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear weighed in on the accident, saying on X, "Our hearts are broken, and we continue to pray for the victim’s family."

"The events that occurred afterward are the unfortunate result of this tragic incident, and we are hopeful that all parties involved can come to a resolution," Beshear added.

Scottie Scheffler arrested during PGA Tour in Louisville Kentucky (Louisville Department of Corrections / AFP - Getty Images)
Scottie Scheffler arrested during PGA Tour in Louisville Kentucky (Louisville Department of Corrections / AFP - Getty Images)

The accident caused traffic outside the club to be backed up for about a mile in both directions, the AP reported.

The Louisville Metro Police Department said in a statement that "all lanes of traffic at the scene were closed while the fatality investigation occurred." The police department was also at the scene directing traffic, the statement said.

An officer was directing traffic into the club when Scheffler, who was in the eastbound lane, allegedly drove into the westbound lane "to avoid backed up traffic," according to a police incident report.

The officer stopped Scheffler and attempted to give him instructions, but the golfer "refused to comply and accelerated forward" dragging the officer to the ground, the report says.

The officer "suffered pain, swelling, and abrasions to his uniform pants," it states.

The LMPD said an officer who was directing traffic had an "encounter with a motorist" who was trying to enter a restricted area which "ultimately led to the driver being arrested."

Darlington said Scheffler was attempting to drive around the crash scene. An officer told the golfer to stop, but he allegedly kept going, ESPN reported.

An officer "attached himself" to the side of Scheffler’s vehicle and Scheffler stopped as he turned into the entrance of the club, according to ESPN. When Scheffler rolled down his window to talk to the officer, he was allegedly pulled out of the vehicle and handcuffed.

When asked about the police report that said Scheffler dragged and injured an officer, Romines said "that did not happen."

"If we need to litigate that issue, we will litigate it," Romines said. "He did not drag any officer. He did not injure any officer. As soon as he received the directions — conflicting directions — to stop, he stopped."

While Romines was not there, he cited eye witnesses and videos he’s seen of the arrest that he said "confirmed that it did not happen."

Romines also made it clear that "there was never a time in which … Scottie Scheffler tried to drive through any accident scene or anything else," referring to the nearby fatality.

"He didn’t do anything wrong," Romines insisted, noting that the charges against Scheffler "will either be dropped and dismissed or we’ll go to trial."

Jail records show that he was booked on charges of second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from officers directing traffic.

An arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday, at which Scheffler will appear unless it is moved, Romines said.

"It’s not like he’s going to plead guilty to something," Romines said. "He didn’t do anything wrong. He was following directions in a chaotic situation."

Romines said he was contacted about the incident early this morning and that his client spent about an hour and a half in jail and was later released on his own recognizance. Scheffler did not have to post any bail to be released, but his release came with the stipulation that he has no contact with the arresting officer.

Romines acknowledged that "anything can happen" between now and the Tuesday arraignment, or during the process of litigation, but what Romines said he wants to see is the arresting officer’s body camera footage.

"We believe it’ll confirm what the witnesses have said," Romines said. "As soon as we get that body cam video, we believe the case will probably be dismissed."

Scheffler is "upset about the whole situation," Romines said, adding that "it’s distracted from the golf tournament."

More than anything, Romines said Scheffler is upset "about the tragedy of the individual that lost his life and somehow this is in any way related to that," but for now, Scheffler is "doing his job and, you know, playing golf the best he can and, you know, he’ll let the court system deal with it."

Scheffler called it a 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 shared on X by PGA Tour.

Scottie Scheffler Arrested in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images)
Scottie Scheffler Arrested in Louisville, Kentucky. (Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images)

"I never intended to disregard any of the instructions. I’m hopeful to put this to the side and focus on golf today," he added.

Scheffler offered his condolences to the family of the man struck by the shuttle and said "it truly puts everything in perspective."

Greenberg said it was "unfortunate" that an incident took place between Scheffler and the officer.

"LMPD is fully investigating this incident and the legal process will proceed. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation," he said in a statement. "We remain focused on the tragic loss of life and will share more information on both of these matters as available."

PGA of America said it is "fully cooperating as local authorities review what took place" between the officer and Scheffler.

Scheffler was released from jail and returned to the club just before 9:30 a.m. He teed off shortly after 10 a.m. to an outburst of cheers. Video posted on X by ESPN’s Marty Smith showed fans yelling "Free Scottie" after his tee shot. He was 7 under par, two shots from lead, after going 3 under through 12 holes.

In Friday's second round, Scheffler shot 5 under par. He’s now a combined 9 under par for the first two rounds. That means he finished one stroke better today, after the arrest, than he did yesterday.

Scheffler at the podium says "my situation will be handled."

"I did spend some time stretching in a jail cell," Scheffler said.

The golfer, 27, turned pro in 2018 and has appeared in the PGA championships four times. He won the Master’s in April, and also in 2022.

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