Monday, June 17, 2024

World No.1 charged, returns to course hours later

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Masters champion Scottie Scheffler was arrested on Friday morning (evening AEST) on his way to the PGA Championship with stunning images showing him handcuffed as he was taken to jail for not following police orders during a pedestrian fatality investigation.

In a span of three hours, Scheffler was arrested wearing gym shorts and a tee shirt, was dressed in an orange jail shirt for his mug shot, and returned to Valhalla Golf Club in golf clothes 56 minutes before he was to tee off in the second round.

Scheffler’s attorney says the arrest was “a big misunderstanding”.

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“We will litigate the case as it goes,” attorney Steve Romines told The Associated Press.

Traffic was backed up for about 1.6 kilometres in both directions on the only road that leads to Valhalla in the morning darkness with light rain, with dozens of police vehicles flashing red-and-blue lights near the entrance.

Police said a pedestrian had been struck by a bus while crossing the road in a lane that was dedicated to tournament traffic and was pronounced dead at the scene about 5.09 am.

ESPN reporter Jeff Darlington said Scheffler, the No. 1 player in the world who was to start the second round at 8.48am, drove past a police officer a little after 6am in his SUV with markings on the door indicating it was a PGA Championship vehicle.

The officer screamed at him to stop and then grabbed onto the car until Scheffler stopped about nine metres later.

Scheffler was booked at 7.28am — about two and a half hours before he was scheduled to start his second round.

Police said he was booked for second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

“The main thing is he was proceeding exactly as he was directed in a marked vehicle with credentials,” Romines said.

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“He didn’t do anything intentionally wrong.”

Louisville Metro police spokesman Dwight Mitchell did not immediately return a call seeking comment and information.

Darlington watched it unfold.

He said police pulled Scheffler out of the car, pushed him up against the car and immediately placed him in handcuffs.

“Scheffler was then walked over to the police car, placed in the back, in handcuffs, very stunned about what was happening, looked toward me as he was in those handcuffs and said, ‘Please help me,'” Darlington said.

“He very clearly did not know what was happening in the situation. It moved very quickly, very rapidly, very aggressively.”

Mitchell told Louisville radio station WHAS the man was crossing Shelbyville Road about 5am and the bus didn’t see him.

Mitchell said the man was pronounced dead on the scene.

The PGA Championship posted a notice that play would be delayed because of the accident.

The second round was to start 1 hour, 20 minutes later than scheduled tee times, meaning Scheffler was not due to start until a little after 10am.

Scheffler was released by police and returned to the course at 9.12am.

He made his way to the practice area around 9.30am and was welcomed by fans — one shouted “free Scottie!”

With cars backed up in the morning darkness, other PGA-marked vehicles tried to move slowly toward the entrance.

Traffic finally began to move gradually a little before 7am.

It was a surreal start to what already has been a wild week of weather — the Masters champion and top-ranked player in the world, dressed in workout clothes with his hands in cuffs behind his back amid flashing flights.

Darlington said police were not sure who Scheffler was.

He said an officer asked him to leave and when he identified himself being with the media, he was told, “There’s nothing you can do. He’s going to jail.”

Darlington said another police officer later approached with a notepad and asked if he knew the name of the person they put in handcuffs.

Scheffler is coming off four victories in his last five tournaments, including his second Masters title.

He was home in Dallas the last three weeks waiting on the birth of his first child, a son that was born May 8.

Scheffler opened with a 4-under 67 and was five shots out of the lead as he tries to become only the fifth player since 1960 to win the first two majors of the year.

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