Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands



PGA Championship

PGA Championship 2024: Chaos, gossip, and peace—What Scottie Scheffler's pre-round warmup was like on the ground

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Ben Jared

LOUISVILLE — Phil Kenyon might be the busiest man in golf. The legendary putting coach, who World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler thanked profusely in his green jacket ceremony last month after winning the Masters, spends most days darting around the putting green, from player to player.

But on Friday morning before the second round at the 2024 PGA Championship, Kenyon was standing alone in the rain and, like the rest of the world, slightly unsure what was about to happen next.

On an ordinary day—the one Scheffler had initially planned for as he approached Valhalla Golf Club just before 6 a.m. in his courtesy car—Kenyon and Scheffler would be running through his putting routine. But this was not an ordinary day

"Is he playing today?" asked one player.

"He's just got here," quipped his caddie. "They should make him play in all orange."

Scheffler's morning took a bizarre turn after a tragic accident left a spectator killed following a collision with a shuttle bus at 5 a.m.

In the ensuring road closures—an atmosphere which Scheffler later described in his statement as a "chaotic situation"—Scheffler allegedly "refused to comply" and kept accelerating, which left the officer on site injured, according to the police report. At 7:28 a.m., Scheffler was booked at the Louisville Metropolitan Department of Corrections.

At 8:40 a.m., Scheffler was released without bail (an arraignment scheduled for May 21) and allowed to return to Valhalla ahead of his now 10:08 a.m. tee time; all pairings were pushed back one hour and 20 minutes because of the original collision.

"I can't believe he's playing," one coach said. "If it were me, I'd go right back home to be with my wife and newborn son."

"He's coming," an official whispered to a TV camera nearby, who promptly spun in place.

The crowd roared when Scheffler emerged onto the putting green, and Rickie Fowler placed a hand on his shoulder then wished him good luck. Scheffler thanked him but didn't break. He wouldn't roll any putts at that moment. Or hit any chips.

It was 9:35 a.m., the best golfer on the planet was due on the tee in 30 minutes.

"When I look at how Scottie plays and what he does better than anybody in the world is staying in his own world," Justin Thomas said of Scheffler earlier this week. "Not only is his golf unbelievable, but he trusts in his ability and stays in his process, no matter what else is going on."

I thought about that quote when what seemed like every camera on property huddled around Scheffler on the range. Scheffler didn't seem to notice. He always seems uniquely at-ease on the golf course, and especially so today. It's hard to know how he felt in the hours up until this point, but even with a Tiger-sized crowd around him, here he seemed at peace.

Scheffler's first shot at the practice area—a wedge—sailed about 80 yards. His second about 120, landing five feet from the pin he was aiming for in the distance. It was then that Scheffler's longtime coach, Randy Smith, uttered his first lesson of the day.

"It's about that club, and it's about you," he said in quiet, Texas drawl. "It's all about you today."

Scheffler worked his way up through the bag just as he ordinarily would. Before each shot, he placed his hands carefully on the club, making sure they align with the clubface just so. He was working with less time than usual, but at no point did he seem rushed.

"I wonder how much of the delay was to make sure Scottie got here on time?" one caddie whispered on the other side of the range.

Brendon Todd broke the Scheffler's bubble when he walked straight over to him and showed an image on his phone.

"Don't forget," he said, displaying the screen.

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Michael Reaves

It's unclear what Todd was showing him, but Scheffler laughed.

The defending Masters champion pulled the driver from his bag a few moments later, and send three drives down the range, then returned it to his bag. A handful of wedge shots to close, and Scheffler called it. The first tee awaited. As he walked away, the assembled media went with him.

"Rory must be on cloud nine right now," another range-goer said. "Nobody's talking about him anymore."

He's right. It wasn't about McIlroy today, or the tournament itself. The golf world's eyes had shifted to Scheffler on Friday. It was all about him.

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