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Schauffele's PGA Championship win overshadowed



When the reality of life and, sadly, death intersects with sports, sometimes it’s hard to make sense.

Inasmuch as Xander Schauffele (Callaway Chrome Tour) ended a lengthy winless streak by prevailing in the PGA Championship to record the first major victory of his career, the story of what happened to Scottie Scheffler (Titleist Pro V1) became far more compelling.

He came into the tournament ranked number in the world and retained that status when it ended finishing tied for eighth, but what happened in between became almost unreal.

His arrest a few hours before he was scheduled to tee off in the second round was surreal. Escorted in handcuffs by police and taken to prison where he was fingerprinted and photographed for a mugshot suddenly took the sports world, not just the golf world, in an unbelievable direction. In fact, it was so profound news networks covered it.

How could an individual with such a strong character and a pristine image suddenly find himself on the

wrong side of the law for disobeying an officer clinging to the car Scheffler was driving?

His decision to disobey an order to stop at the scene of an accident, in which a person headed to the tournament lost his life when hit by a shuttle bus, would be seen worldwide via a video taped by ESPN’s Jeff Darlington.

The tournament had been delayed by officials because of the fatality. Scheffler warmed up in his prison cell while viewing footage of himself on a TV monitor.

That he came back to play and shot five-under par either spoke to the strength of his mindset or he was simply on adrenalin. We have seen Scheffler block out distractions on repeated occasions, but this took it to a different level.

His media conference afterward became something incomprehensible if only because he had to explain what happened. Here’s a squeaky-clean individual who had celebrated the birth of his first child less than two weeks before who had suddenly become a

criminal. He was charged with second-degree assault of a police officer, criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from a police officer directing traffic.

What I appreciated about Scheffler was what he said in addressing the media. In his mind it was a “chaotic situation and a big misunderstanding.” But he quickly pivoted from talking about himself and addressed the loss of an individual, later identified as John Mills, he did not know.

“I can’t get into what transpired, outside of my heart goes out to the family,” he said.

The matter will now go before the courts and how it will be legally handled will be an ongoing news story.

The fact he shot three-over par the next day was understandable. The reality of the situation clearly sunk in, combined with missing his caddie Ted Scott, who took the day off to attend his daughter’s graduation. It had been planned months in advance because of the importance Scheffler and Scott place on family.

It was just inconceivable how it coincided with what happened the day before to Scheffler. Scott’s replacement was PGA Tour chaplain Brad Payne, which spoke to Scheffler’s strong Christian faith and friendship for the onetime golfer. That Scheffler shot two-over par was understandable given all he had gone through and missing someone who had become a huge part of his success since he joined with Scott in the fall of 2022. Scott returned the next day and Scheffler shot six-under par to finish tied for eighth.

I’m sure all of this will be covered in detail by Netflix on Full Swing Season 3. Since Netflix and the PGA Tour committed to a partnership, it has resulted in unexpected drama involving LIV Golf and individual stories of victory and defeat. But what happened at the PGA Championship superseded that. When people wear T-shirts with Scheffler’s mug shot and the words Free Scottie because someone decided to profit off of the story, well, that’s over the top.

TIGER TALK: Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B X) became an afterthought when he failed to make the cut, but the fans on hand for the tournament let him

know he still matters. He wasn’t the only high-profile player to fail to make it to the final 36 holes, but no one moves the needle like Tiger. He said afterward he needs to play more competitive golf, which might appeal to his many followers and the TV networks, but can he physically do that?

NOT RAHM TOUGH: Jon Rahm (Callaway Chrome Soft X) looked and played without any interest in defending his Masters win and played with even less purpose in the PGA Championship. His reputation is taking a beating because of comments he made two days before the tournament began.

“You guys keep saying ‘the other side,’” he said in reference to LIV Golf, which he joined last fall for a reported $700 million. “But I’m still a PGA Tour member, whether suspended or not. I still want to support the PGA Tour and I think that’s an important distinction to make.”

Given that he took the money, how can he still claim to support the PGA Tour? He’s becoming an anti-hero replacing Phil Mickelson (Callaway Chrome Tour X) as a superstar golfer who has become persona non grata.

Rahm took the money and for that he can’t be criticized, but he can’t talk about his allegiance to the PGA Tour.

BRYSON ALMOST DOES IT: It’s interesting how Bryson DeChambeau (Titleist Pro V1x Left Dash), who rubbed many people in the golf world the wrong way with his various theories on the sport, has become respected and quite likeable. He placed second in the PGA Championship after tying for sixth in the Masters.

And he did so in both without much fanfare.

He was gracious in defeat to Schauffele, and what he did in the round also spoke to his character turnaround.

After the ninth hole on his way to the 10th, he tossed a ball to a young boy, but someone older jumped in the way and took it. DeChambeau verbally reprimanded the individual, who was so shamed he gave the ball to the young boy.

Now that’s a classy gesture for an individual who has clearly changed – and for the better.

NELLY DOES IT AGAIN: After failing to set a record by winning her sixth LPGA Tour event in succession, Nelly Korda (TaylorMade TP5x) showed her superiority with her victory last week in the Mizuho Americas Open. That’s six wins in her last seven starts. She beat Hannah Green (Srixon Z-Star) by a stroke. Green won the JM Eagle LA Championship, which Korda elected to bypass after her win in The Chevron Championship.

Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko is an award-winning writer who has published nine books, three of them bestsellers. He has been involved in sports writing for more than 35 years and has interviewed many superstar athletes. He lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and enjoys watching golf and playing it.

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