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Scottie Scheffler tees off at PGA Championship after being arrested and charged with assault on a police officer

Louisville Metropolitan Police Dept. via CNN Newsource

Originally Published: 17 MAY 24 07:36 ET

Updated: 17 MAY 24 10:16 ET

By Jill Martin, Andy Rose and Eric Levenson, CNN

(CNN) — World No. 1 golfer and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler was arrested and charged with a felony and other counts Friday morning outside the PGA Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, after reportedly attempting to drive around the scene of a fatal crash.

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 has been released from jail, according to the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, and returned to the Valhalla Golf Course for the second round of the tournament. The crowd gave Scheffler a rousing applause when he struck his tee shot shortly after 10 a.m.

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

“Of course, all of us involved in the tournament express our deepest sympathies to the family of the man who passed away in the earlier accident this morning. It truly puts everything in perspective.”

The arrest of the world’s best golfer – who became a father just days ago – dramatically transformed one of golf’s major tournaments into, as ESPN’s PGA set anchor Dave Flemming said, “a championship in chaos.”

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 was fatally struck by a bus while attempting to cross the main road leading to the course, Louisville Metro Police Department spokesperson Dwight Mitchell said. Police presence around the entrance to the course was therefore elevated.

When Scheffler arrived, he attempted 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. Scheffler was in a marked player courtesy vehicle, Darlington said on ESPN.

Video from Darlington shows police walking with Scheffler, who was in handcuffs, and placing him into a police vehicle.

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

PGA of America, the organizer of the PGA Championship, said in a statement that the pedestrian who died in the crash was a worker with one of their vendors.

“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.

Scheffler’s attorney said the arrest stemmed from a misunderstanding. “They were directing traffic, he held his media credential out and was going in like they’d been instructed to,” attorney Steve Raines told CNN affiliate WLKY.

Raines, Scheffler’s attorney, said the golfer was unaware of the earlier crash. “I think the officer that was directing traffic was maybe not part of the event traffic detail, and so that’s where the miscommunication arose, and that’s why we’re here.”

He declined to comment on why the golfer was charged with assault, saying he will let the case play out in court. “Scottie will cooperate fully,” Raines said.

World No. 1 seeks season’s second major

Scheffler was the overwhelming favorite ahead of the season’s second major, seeking to go back-to-back following his Masters triumph last month.

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.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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