Scottie Scheffler gets surprise reaction at US PGA Championship after arrest

The world No.1 is arrested, handcuffed and driven away from Valhalla but gets back to start his second round… and promptly nails a birdie on the opening hole

World number one golfer Scottie Scheffler was detained outside of Valhalla

Scottie Scheffler went from getting arrested and handcuffed outside the gates of Valhalla to a birdie on his opening hole in a little over four bizarre hours on Friday.

And the God-fearing world No.1 became an unlikely popular hero even quicker. The Masters champion walked onto the 10th tee to start his second to huge applause and cries of “Free Scottie”. In a mad week in Louisville, Rory is no longer the story. And the police mug shot of the Texan wearing an orange jump suit showed the best player in the world is the new OJ Simpson as well as Tiger Woods.

A morning of chaos and confusion started with a hospitality worker “tragically struck and killed by a shuttle bus outside Valhalla Golf Club” at 5am, according to a statement from the PGA of America. Police closed Shelbyville Road outside the course and traffic stacked up.

Scheffler had an 8.48am tee off time and attempted to go around the queue and enter Valhalla in his tournament car at 6.01am. The American, usually one of the best drivers in the game, was intercepted by the Louisville Police Department.

ESPN reporter Jeff Darlington witnessed the ensuing scenes where the world No.1 was handcuffed and frogmarched in the rain into a police car with one officer saying: “There’s nothing you can do. He’s going to jail.”

Scheffler was taken to a police station where he was charged, processed and released and arrived back at the golf course at just after 9am in a black Range Rover. His original tee-time of 8.48am had been pushed back 80 minutes because of the traffic gridlock which had caused Will Zalatoris and Cam Young to abandon their lifts and walk to the course.

Scheffler was in good spirits when he finally arrived on the practice range ( Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Scheffler strode out on the range at 9.35am to hit balls in front of his long-time coach Randy Smith, his caddie Ted Scott and a circus of media and fans. Other players on the range looked on in wonder with one coach telling me: “It is mad. Anyone but him.”

It is true. Until today, Scheffler’s only crime for the press had been his worthy dullness. After his second Masters win last month, he said: “My buddies told me this morning, my victory was secure on the cross.”

Now he is the people’s and media’s new favourite rebel and the storyline of the week.

Scottie Scheffler was filmed by an ESPN reporter after he was arrested at the US PGA ( X)

At 9.57am Scheffler walked over the bridge from the range to the short game area before arriving on the 10th tee five minutes before his 10.08am tee off time as a returning hero. “Scottie, Scottie” was chanted with glee by the massive crowd gathered in the pouring rain to watch his group.

Scheffler had won four of his last five events but only returned to golf in the first round after his childhood sweetheart Meredith gave birth to their son Bennett on May 8.

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA – APRIL 22: Scottie Scheffler of the United States celebrates with the trophy after winning during the continuation of the final round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on April 22, 2024 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) ( Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

For his first hole as a father on Thursday, he holed a 9-iron from 167 yards for an eagle to warm applause.

For his first as a felon, he pushed his drive right into the rough, clipped his wedge from 92 yards to under two feet and rolled in the birdie putt to a frenzy of noise. No-one will ever look at Scottie Scheffler in the same way again.

Seve Ballesteros was the Car Park Champion after winning the 1979 Open at Royal Lytham.

If he wins on Sunday – or maybe Monday with storms forecast later today – Scheffler will go down in history as the Police Car Champion.

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