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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    Schauffele stays out front at PGA Championship as Scheffler caps a wild day by staying in contention

    Scottie Scheffler warms up before the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

    Louisville, Ky. — Scottie Scheffler was in handcuffs before dawn in the back of a police car. His warmup routine began in a jail cell. And some six hours later, Scheffler remarkably signed for a 5-under 66 and was right in the mix Friday at the PGA Championship.

    Xander Schauffele, fresh off his record start of 62, was not letting up in a bid to end two years without a win by capturing his first major. He had to settle for pars over his last seven holes for a 68 and was at 12-under 130, one shot ahead of Collin Morikawa.

    Morikawa birdied five in a row down the stretch only to end with a bogey for a 65. Tiger Woods had two triple bogeys and missed the cut.

    They all were mere footnotes on a day that was beyond belief.

    "I feel like my head is still spinning," Scheffler said.

    The world's No. 1 player and Masters champion was driving to Valhalla about 6 a.m. when he ran into traffic, unaware police were investigating a pedestrian — John Mills, who worked for a vendor at the tournament — being struck and killed by a shuttle bus near the entrance.

    Scheffler was arrested for failing to follow police instructions. The arrest report indicated a Louisville Metro police officer was dragged to the ground as Scheffler's car drove by, causing swelling and abrasions on the officer's left wrist. Scheffler said it was a "chaotic situation" and he never intended to disregard the police instructions. "A big misunderstanding," he said.

    "I can't imagine what they're going through. I feel for them," he said of the victim's family. "My situation will get handled."

    Scheffler was handcuffed and taken into custody. The winner of a Masters green jacket posed for a mug shot wearing orange jail garb. He could see from the holding cell video of his arrest on ESPN. His heart was racing and his body was shaking.

    "I did spend some time stretching in a jail cell. That was a first for me," Scheffler said. "I was just sitting there waiting and I started going through my warmup. I felt like there was a chance I may be able to still come out here and play. I started going through my routine and I tried to get my heart rate down as much as I could today.

    "I was fortunate to be able to make it back out and play some golf today."

    Not just any golf. He hit a wedge to 3 feet for birdie on his first hole. He was solid from tee-to-green, made a few putts and had a round that ranked among his best under the circumstances.

    "As far as best rounds of my career, I would say it was pretty good," Scheffler said. "I definitely never imagined ever going to jail, and I definitely never imagined going to jail the morning before one of my tee times for sure."

    The long day — there was a delay of 1 hour, 20 minutes because of the accident — finally ended in darkness with 18 players still to finish. They were to return Saturday morning. The cut, though not final, would be a PGA Championship record of at least 1-under par.

    Valhalla is soft and defenseless, and hardly any wind made it even easier.

    Schauffele stalled at the end, making his first bogey on the par-3 11th hole. He lost one good birdie chance on the par-5 18th when he had mud on his golf ball, which explained why a good swing produced a wild hook into the hay.

    "We're pro golfers, we're not professional mud readers," Schauffele said. "So I was praying that the mud on my ball wasn't going to do something, and I felt like I made a really nice pass at it ... and I look up and my ball's just duck-hooking across the property."

    Morikawa challenged at the Masters and is back for more, and while his swing helps him keep the ball in front of him, it's his putting that is making him believe he can be there at the end.

    "I know I still have it in me, and that's what's exciting," he said. "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."

    Scheffler was at 133 with Bryson DeChambeau (65), Thomas Detry (67) and Mark Hubbard, who had three bogeys and three birdies over his last seven holes in a round of 68.

    Hubbard got some attention early Friday with a post to X that referenced Scheffler's police report, including a listed weight of 170 pounds.

    "Scottie's bigger than me, there's no way he's 170," Hubbard said after his round. "Like, I got to get in the gym and stop eating so much of my kids' leftover mac and cheese."

    But then he turned serious, as so many other players did, expressing shock over seeing Scheffler in handcuffs and sadness for Mills, the 69-year-old victim.

    "I thought the saddest part was that the whole thing was about Scottie getting arrested and all that — and like I said, I'm glad he's doing OK and everything — but I mean, someone died this morning, and we were out there on the course. I bet 90% of the people out here don't even know that happened.

    "That's not Scottie's fault at all, but that was the real tragedy today."

    Austin Eckroat, who won his first PGA Tour title earlier this year at the Cognizant Classic, got out of his car in traffic and walked the rest of the way. His wife took the car and later returned. He fashioned another 67 and was in the group at 8-under 134.

    "I pulled up the local news station trying to figure out what was going on, and the first thing I saw was Scottie had been put in handcuffs," Eckroat said. "And I was like, 'What in the world is going on?' It was a weird morning."

    The only normalcy was the golf. Schauffele is still going strong. Morikawa keeps moving closer to the form that brought him two majors. And Scheffler still looks like the player to beat.

    "I've kept myself in the tournament now with a pretty chaotic day, so I'm going to go from here and focus on getting some rest and recovery and get ready for a grind the last two days," Scheffler said.

    In this mug shot provided by the Louisville Metropolitan Department of Corrections Friday, May 17, 2024, Scott Scheffler is shown. Masters champion Scottie Scheffler was detained by police Friday morning on his way to the PGA Championship, with stunning images showing him handcuffed as he was led to a police car. (Louisville Metropolitan Department of Corrections via AP)
    In this still image made from video provided by ESPN, Masters champion Scottie Scheffler is escorted by police after being handcuffed near Valhalla Golf Club, site of the PGA Championship golf tournament, early Friday, May 17, 2024. (ESPN via AP)
    FILE - Scottie Scheffler speaks during a news conference during the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club, Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. Masters champion Scottie Scheffler was detained by police Friday morning for not following police instructions during a traffic jam that followed a traffic fatality involving a pedestrian, ESPN reported. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
    Scottie Scheffler watches his tee shot on the 11th hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
    Emily Ferrando wears a T-shirt she bought in the parking lot in support of Scottie Scheffler during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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