US PGA: Scottie Scheffler shoots second round 66 after early morning arrest

World number one faces four charges after being taken into custody prior to Friday’s action at Valhalla

Never a dull day in the world of golf, is there? On a grey, laden and rainy day in Kentucky, the 106th US PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville – what would Muhammad Ali, The Lip himself, have made of it all? – world number one Scottie Scheffler went through the full gambit of a movie script before ever getting to go in quest of the Wanamaker Trophy.

The squeaky clean golfer, but a wet week as a new first-time father, had a “misunderstanding” (his word, in a statement issued by his team) with the Louisville Metro police as he attempted to round a traffic roadblock into the club in the morning darkness. The upshot, surreal as it was, saw him handcuffed, taken downtown for a mugshot in an orange suit, and charged (one felony and three misdemeanours) with a future court date for the diary.

The timeline is worth noting. A tragic, fatal accident had occurred on the road – in a separate incident – at 5.09am local time, when a pedestrian was knocked down by a shuttle bus. Scheffler (yes, four hours before his tee time), arrived at 6.01am when he sought to find a route but only to fall foul of the law. He eventually arrived back to the club, after all the police work was completed, at 9.18am and teed off at 10.08am.

If the buzzword in sporting circles these days is to compartmentalise, as Rory McIlroy started the week in which he filed for divorce and then parked those personal issues to focus on his golf, then Scheffler took the whole deal to a completely new level. And yet, once golf clubs were in hand, he continued to do what he has done all year by shooting his way into contention for another major title.


Having managed to feed on a breakfast of eggs and get some range work in with longtime coach Randy Smith – who offered the words of advice, “to focus” - Scheffler’s arrival to the 10th tee, his starting point, was greeted with the sort of noisy acclaim more reminiscent of how Tiger Woods was greeted by fans. Loud and supportive.

Once in his own domain on the course, Scheffler – winner of four of his last five tournaments, including the Masters last month – went about his business as if there were no fuss or distractions. From tee-to-green, it was the Scheffler who has dominated all season, starting with a birdie on the par five 10th – and moving on from one tee to the next with a sense of purpose and the focus his coach had asked for as he added a 66 to his opening 67 for 138, two shots adrift of clubhouse leader Collin Morikawa.

He wasn’t alone in doing that, for sure, but there was post-round sympathy first and foremost to the family of the fatal road accident.

“I can’t imagine what they’re going through. One day he’s heading to the golf course to watch a tournament. A few moments later he’s trying to cross the street, and now he’s no longer with us. I can’t imagine what they’re going through. My heart ... I feel for them. I’m sorry.

“My situation will get handled. It was a chaotic situation and a big misunderstanding. I can’t comment on any of the specifics of it,” said Scheffler, who somehow managed to, yes, compartmentalise it all so that he could focus on yardages and finding fairways and holing putts with scorecard in hand.

On a course softened by persistent rain, but not with any threat of electricity in the air, Morikawa shot a 65 – bookended by a run of five straight birdies late on – for a midway total of 11-under-par 131 to assume the clubhouse lead, two shots clear of Scheffler and Belgium’s Thomas Detry.

Shane Lowry had started his championship on Thursday with back-to-back bogeys on his opening two holes before recovering brilliantly to open with a 69 and in a second round of four birdies and two bogeys he matched that score to reach the midpoint on 138, inside the top-20 and headed into the weekend with ambitions of his own.

Morikawa, a two-time Major champion, having claimed the Wanamaker Trophy in the Covid-affected tournament at Harding Park in 2020 before adding a Claret Jug in 2021, hit a hot streak from the fourth (his 13th hole of the round) for five straight birdies before a final hole bogey.

But when all was said and done, he’d moved into the clubhouse lead and a chance to add to his majors collection. Of his capability to win majors, Morikawa observed: “I had belief since day one that I was going to be able to do it, and obviously you want to see the results, but just believing that it’s possible and just knowing that it’s going to happen ... I know I’m going to win again, it’s just a matter of when, is it going to be tomorrow, is it going to be (some other time)? But it’s going to happen.

“I know I still have it in me, and that’s what’s exciting is that, after Augusta, it sucked to finish like that and it sucked to lose to Scottie, but at the end of the day, I knew I had three more Majors coming up and to prep for that and get things as sharp as possible and just come out strong. It’s obviously nice to get off to this start.”

Morikawa is where he would want to be. So, too, you feel, Scheffler. And others.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times