How players reacted to fatal accident, Scottie Scheffler's arrest at PGA Championship (2024)

How players reacted to fatal accident, Scottie Scheffler's arrest at PGA Championship (1)

By Jim Trotter and Gabby Herzig

May 18, 2024

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Austin Eckroat and his wife awoke to rain and darkness Friday before departing for Valhalla Golf Club and Day 2 of the PGA Championship. They were about 2 miles away when the fourth-year pro received a text about a nearby traffic delay. Suddenly, they were in it, with no movement in either direction.

“I pulled up the local news station trying to figure out what was going on, and the first thing I saw was Scottie (Scheffler) had been put in handcuffs,” he said. “I was like, What in the world is going on?”

Many competitors shared that sentiment after concluding Friday’s second round. Some had no idea why Scheffler had been arrested or that the delay stemmed from a fatal accident: John Mills, who was working the tournament, was struck by a shuttle bus just outside the entry gates and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Scheffler, according to the arrest report, was traveling eastbound when he attempted to steer his black Range Rover courtesy car into the westbound lane. Detective Bryan Gillis tried to stop the vehicle but Scheffler continued forward, according to the report, “dragging Detective Gillis to the ground” and causing injuries that required medical treatment.

Scheffler was arrested and taken to the local precinct, where he was charged with second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic. A court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

“It was very strange coming into the course this morning, not the normal quiet arrival,” Harris English said. “Obviously, got here this morning, then news broke that Scottie had been detained and all that. We had no idea what was going on. That could have been any one of us. We’re all taking that same route coming into the club. … It’s a lot of traffic cones and not really knowing what lane you’re going to be in. Definitely a little bit more hectic than we’re used to getting into the golf course; dark, raining, it’s hard to see anyway and you’ve got a lot of lights around, you’ve got a lot of people yelling and pointing and all this stuff. It was very chaotic.”


Will Zalatoris faced a different type of chaos after he left his rental house at 6:15 a.m. Sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, the Dallas native said he received word that Scheffler’s arrest caused the stoppage. He decided to exit his vehicle and walk to the course instead, leaving the keys with his wife. Zalatoris ultimately joined Eckroat, Cameron Young and a group of PGA club professionals in a 2-mile walk to the club’s gates. They approached security at the entrance on foot.

“When we got there, they told us to go to Gate 4. We told them we were players, but they didn’t know. They’re used to seeing the courtesy cars and we’re showing them our badges. They didn’t know what an all-access player badge was,” Zalatoris said. “They had to figure out a way to let us in.”

The commotion didn’t stop once players arrived on site. Players received notice of the postponement of the round at 6:16 a.m. via text message, but the PGA of America did not provide a further update until 7:40 a.m. Play eventually was delayed one hour and 20 minutes, to 8:35 a.m.

How players reacted to fatal accident, Scottie Scheffler's arrest at PGA Championship (2)

Brian Harman, right, shakes Scottie Scheffler’s hand during their round Friday. (Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

Collin Morikawa, who shot a 65 on Friday to move into contention, spoke of the confusion and the challenge of focusing on the round ahead.

“We didn’t really know what time we were teeing off,” he said. “I had pretty much gone through my whole warmup in the physio room, and then there was the delay, the hour delay, and they kept pushing it back. You kind of take it all in, and talking amongst all the players and caddies and physios and our little bubble in there — it’s just wild. Turn on ESPN and seeing Scottie in handcuffs, getting in a police car, I never would have thought I would have seen that this morning. It was just wild. But again, you had to lock in.”

Others felt the same but acknowledged it was difficult.

“I was a bit shook about what happened on both the scenarios,” Min Woo Lee said of Scheffler’s arrest and Mills’ death. “I mean, during the round it was even hard to just concentrate. I had to make sure to keep my head in the game because I wouldn’t want that to happen to anyone, and yeah, obviously what happened to Scottie was very scary, too.”


Lee, who has a large following on social media, had the immediate instinct to take his thoughts public when he learned of Scheffler’s detainment. He thought the situation was an “overreaction” and described that in a simple tweet: “#FreeScottie” the post read. It has garnered more than 26,000 likes.


— Min Woo Lee (@Minwoo27Lee) May 17, 2024

The two-word phrase had already been circulating on social platforms, but it quickly made its way around the grounds of Valhalla, too. The Louisville spectators shouted in support of Scheffler throughout his round, with some even printing his mugshot onto T-shirts to wear to the course.

Fans may have focused on Scheffler, but many of the players were equally concerned about Mills and his family. Each of those who spoke went out of their way to recognize the loss of life.

“I don’t think that’s getting talked about enough, or at all,” Morikawa said. “My wishes and prayers are within that family’s blessings.”

Said Mark Hubbard: “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 (while) we were out there on the course, like, I bet 90 percent of the people out here don’t even know that that happened. That’s not Scottie’s fault at all, but it’s just, I mean, that was the real tragedy today.”

Hubbard was asked what message he can take from that.

“It’s a weird world we live in,” he said. “With social media, I think the important stuff can kind of get lost sometimes. I don’t really know how to fix it. I don’t know what the overall message is. It’s sad that that happened, and my heart goes out to that family.”

(Top photo: Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

How players reacted to fatal accident, Scottie Scheffler's arrest at PGA Championship (2024)
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