Scheffler's attorney denies golfer assaulted police officer

Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler shakes hands with fans, one wearing a T-shirt bearing the image of his mugshot from jail, during the second round of the PGA Championship (Patrick Smith)
Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler shakes hands with fans, one wearing a T-shirt bearing the image of his mugshot from jail, during the second round of the PGA Championship (Patrick Smith)

Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler struggled to his first over-par round of the year in Saturday's third round of the PGA championship a day after being arrested while his attorney denied charges the golfer assaulted a police officer.

Scheffler, arrested Friday morning after a confrontation with police at the entrance to Valhalla Golf Club, returned from jail to fire an adrenaline-fueled five-under par 66 on Friday to pull within three shots of the lead.

But on Saturday, the two-time Masters champion stumbled with a double bogey at the second hole followed by back-to-back bogeys.

After a birdie at the fifth hole, his next three birdies were followed by bogeys in the next hole before he closed with a birdie at 18 to shoot a two-over 73 and stand on seven-under 206, eight strokes off the lead.

"I definitely did not feel like myself but yesterday happened and I came out and did my best," he said.

"Tough day. Got off to a tough start. Was battling all day but seemed to follow every birdie with a bogey. Way too many mistakes. Pretty frustrated with the day."

Adding to his woes was the absence of his regular caddie, Ted Scott, who was away on a previously arranged trip to attend his daughter's high school graduation. PGA Tour chaplain Brad Payne served as a fill-in.

Scheffler, 27, hopes to go from sitting in a jail cell on Friday to hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday and become the first player to win the first two majors of a calendar year since 2015.

The world number one was arrested Friday morning as he tried to drive around police traffic control of an accident at Valhalla's entrance that resulted in the death of a pedestrian, John Mills.

Parked cars at the entry gates now prevent any similar attempts to jump the curb.

Louisville Metropolitan Police Department (LMPD) officers handcuffed Scheffler before arresting him on charges of felony assault of a police officer, criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from an officer directing traffic.

"We'll be pleading not guilty," Scheffler attorney Steve Romines said.

Police say Scheffler's vehicle accelerated and dragged police officer Bryan Gillis so severely that he had left knee and wrist injuries and was treated and released at a local hospital.

"I can't comment on any specifics," Scheffler said Friday. "But my situation will be handled. It was just a big misunderstanding."

An arraignment is set for Tuesday.

Romines said his client only followed instructions he was given at the scene and did not assault any officer with his car.

"He was proceeding as directed by another traffic officer and driving a marked player's vehicle with credentials visible," Romines said.

"In the confusion, Scottie is alleged to have disregarded a different officer's traffic signals resulting in these charges.

"Multiple eyewitnesses have confirmed that he did not do anything wrong but was simply proceeding as directed.

"He stopped immediately upon being directed to and never at any point assaulted any officer with his vehicle.

"We will litigate this matter as needed and he will be completely exonerated."

A Jefferson County Attorney's office spokesman told television station WDRB they are "still obtaining information in the case of Mr. Scheffler and will review and proceed accordingly".

Conviction on the felony charge alone could bring five to 10 years in prison.

- 'It's unfortunate' -

Scheffler and eyewitnesses said the officers were unaware the person they stuffed into the back seat of a police car was among the star players more than 200,000 people were coming from around the world to see this week.

"It's unfortunate that an incident took place between an LMPD officer and Mr. Scheffler while he was attempting to enter Valhalla," said Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg.

"LMPD is fully investigating this incident and the legal process will proceed. We appreciate everyone's cooperation."

Scheffler's remarkable journey from arrest, jail, booking and a mugshot that was an image on T-shirts worn by fans around the course hours later saw him recover enough to make his tee time and compete well despite still trembling over his experience.

"I was shaking. I would say in shock and in fear," Scheffler said Friday. "Was definitely a challenge."