The image of Scottie Scheffler being led away in handcuffs is the most astonishing of the sporting year… a devout Christian, he is the last man you’d expect to see in a mugshot

Just after 10 a.m. on Friday, Scottie Scheffler played his first shot of the second round of the U.S. PGA Championship. Even allowing for an unusual bit of rugged terrain, it would be fair to say this was his least eventful ride of the morning.

The images of the world’s No. 1 golfer, and perhaps its most calm man, being led away in handcuffs by Louisville police four hours earlier will be among the more astonishing and surreal moments of the sporting year.

Within hours, those clips were accompanied by images of Scheffler in orange jail scrubs and confirmation that he would face four charges, the most serious of which is the crime of second-degree assault on a police officer.

That he was released at 8:40 a.m., back on the Valhalla grounds at 9:12 a.m., laughing on the driving range at 9:35 a.m., and on the tee at 10:08 a.m. would serve as a partial timeline of his strangest morning.

It would be necessary at this point to provide some context around Scheffler, who has dominated his sport in recent years but whose profile outside those ropes was relatively small prior to his apparent refusal to stop his car at the request of police on Friday. morning.

Scottie Scheffler is led away in handcuffs by police shortly after 6 a.m. on Friday morning

He then appeared in prison garb for a mug shot in Louisville before being released by police

He then appeared in prison garb for a mug shot in Louisville before being released by police

Hours later, Scheffler was back on the course and birdied two of his first three holes

Hours later, Scheffler was back on the course and birdied two of his first three holes

He hasn’t penetrated wider consciousness like Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy – not even close. That muted status is completely at odds with his talent, but it also says everything about why he’s the last guy you’d expect to see in a mug shot.

He has long been portrayed, very accurately, as the dead-eyed killer with a pious personality, a devout Christian who has a habit of crucifying his rivals on the track and never leans toward controversy off it. His press conferences are largely attended out of a sense of duty rather than fascination.

While the golf world has been mired in political chaos over the past two years, the consequences of which have affected Woods, McIlroy and Jon Rahm, Scheffler has continued his work of saying little and winning big.

Coming into this tournament, his most recent results were win, win, second, win, win, including his second Masters title. At 27, he’s producing the best numbers since Woods and no more headlines.

The closest he has strayed toward trouble in his recent history was an extended period of poor putting. As Woods summarized on the eve of this tournament: ‘If he putst poorly, he will finish in the top 10. If he putst well, he wins. He putts great, he runs.”

Scheffler has a reputation as a devout Christian, and a family man who has just started a family

Scheffler has a reputation as a devout Christian, and a family man who has just started a family

Scheffler won the Masters last month and it was a rollercoaster ride for the world number 1

Scheffler won the Masters last month and it was a rollercoaster ride for the world number 1

His arrival at tournaments was often accompanied by the question of who could finish second. This time there was an injection of doubt, partly because of McIlroy’s form, but mainly because Scheffler and his wife Meredith, his high school sweetheart from Texas, had recently had their first child. As a result, he had parked the clubs for a few weeks.

The possibility of him coming in rusty seemed feasible, and was promptly dismissed by an opening 67 in Thursday’s first loop – the highlight coming when he holed out from 167 yards on his second shot of his first round back. Scheffler was active again and tended to the inevitable.

Only time will tell what impact Friday morning’s remarkable scenes will have on the poise of a golfer whose mind has always been the most reliable club in his bag.

That in itself is interesting considering how different things used to be – his former coach at the University of Texas, John Fields, once depicted for me the hot-headed youth kicking holes in the gymnasium wall after losing at table tennis.

Fans were quick to don

Fans were quick to don “Free Scottie” t-shirts in Valhalla after Friday morning’s crazy events

Scheffler received an enthusiastic welcome from the fans in Valhalla when he returned from prison

Scheffler received an enthusiastic welcome from the fans in Valhalla when he returned from prison

He seemed in good spirits with his caddy and fellow players at the pre-round on the driving range

He seemed in good spirits with his caddy and fellow players at the pre-round on the driving range

He outgrew that and channeled his ability to do damage into the leaderboards instead. He has won ten times since February 2022 and earned $61 million in prize money alone.

Barely a foot strayed out of line in collecting those figures, which only added to the surprise when he became embroiled in those scenes at the gates of Valhalla.

Scheffler called it a misunderstanding, which seems eminently plausible considering players were apparently informed they could bypass the imposed cordon as police directed traffic following the tragic fatality of a pedestrian.

It remains to be seen whether the charges will be dropped, or whether his habit of relentlessly dominating a sport will be interrupted by the kind of noise he is completely unfamiliar with.