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Five Things We Learned: Friday at the PGA Championship

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Early on Friday morning, a vendor working for the PGA Championship was struck and killed by a tournament shuttle bus. Nearly at the same time, as he arrived for his second round of tournament play, Scottie Scheffler attempted to detour around the scene, and was arrested, booked, then released. Somehow, Scheffler returned to Valhalla and played his second round of the tournament. Despite the jokes and memes of some in the golf industry, the tournament took a back seat to life and humanity on Friday morning. Our prayers are with the family and friends of the vendor, as well as with all involved.

Day two of Valhalla’s fourth PGA Championship did not see a repeat of the record-setting 62 posted by first-day leader, Xander Schauffele. The low card of 65 was returned by five golfers, when play was suspended by darkness. Five golfers still on the course, were on the positive side of the expected cut line of one-under par, while 12 more either had work to do, or knew that their week had come to an end.

The best 70 golfers and ties would advance to the weekend. 64 golfers figured at minus-two on Friday evening, with another 15 at one-under par. The most likely scenario saw those at even par, headed home. The formula was simple: finish under par and stick around. Play resumed at 7:15 on Saturday, to sort through the last six threesomes. Before the night turned over, we learned five important things to set us up for a weekend of excitement and excellence. It’s a pleasure to share them with you.

1. The 65s

On Thursday, three golfers etched 65 into the final box on their card of play. On Friday, nearly twice that number finished at six-under par for the round. Collin Morikawa moved from top-five into a spot in the final pairing. The 2020 PGA Champion at Harding Park teed off at the tenth hole, and turned in minus-two. He then ran off five consecutive birdies from the fourth tee to the eighth green, before finding trouble at the ninth, his last hole of the day. Bogey at nine dropped him from -12 to -11.

The same score moved Bryson DeChambeau from 11th spot to T4. Joining the pair with 65s on day two were Matt Wallace and Hideki Matsuyama (each with 70-65 for T11) and Lee Hodges (71-65 for T16.) Morikawa, Matsuyama, and DeChambeau have major championship wins in their names, while Wallace has been on the when to break through list his entire career. Hodges epitomizes the term journeyman, bu the PGA Championship is the one major of them all when lesser-known challegers find a way to break through.

2. The Corebridge team of PGA Professionals

Last year’s Cinderella story, Michael Block, did not repeat his Oak Hill success. Block missed the cut by a fair amount. Of the other 19, however, two were poised to conclude play and reach the weekend’s play. Braden Shattuck had finished at one-under par, while Jeremy Wells (-2) and Ben Polland (-1) were inside the glory line, each with two holes to play.

With three holes to play on the front nine, Kyle Mendoza sits at even par. His task is simple: play the final triumvirate in one-under par or better. If Mendoza can pull off that feat, and if the aforementioned triumvirate can hold steady, the club professional segment of the tournament will have four representatives in play over the weekend.

3. Scottie Scheffler

In his post-round interview, Scheffler admitted that his second round, following the surreal nature of the early morning’s events, was made possible by the support he received from patrons and fellow competitors. The new father expressed his great sadness for the loss of life, and also praised some of the first responders that had accompanied him in the journey from course to jail cell. Yes, jail cell. Scheffler spoke of beginning his warm-up routine with jail-house stretches.

Once he returned to Valhalla, Scheffler found a way to a two-under, opening nine holes. He began birdie-bogey-birdie on holes ten through twelve, then eased into a stretch of pars, before making birdie at the par-five 18th. His second nine holes featured three birdies and six pars, allowing him to improve by one shot from day one. Scheffler found himself in a fourth-place tie with Thomas Detry, and third-round tee time in the third-last pairing. Scheffler’s poise illustrated grace under pressure, which is the only way that he could have reached this status through 36 holes.

4. Sahith!

It’s a little bit funny that the fellow who followed 65 with 67, is nowhere to be found on the video highlight reels. He’s not alone in that respect, as Thomas Detry (T4) was also ignored by the cameras. Theegala has won on tour, and has the game to win again. The Californian turned in four-under par on Friday, then made an excruciating bogey at the par-five tenth. He redeemed himself two holes later, with birdie at the twelfth hole.

Theegala is an unproven commodity in major events. He has one top-ten finish: the 2023 Masters saw him finish 9th. He did tie for 40th in 2023, in this event, at Oak Hill. Is he likely to be around on Sunday? Yes. Will he be inside the top ten? If he is, he has a shot on Sunday. If Saturday is not a 67 or better, Theegala will not figure in the outcome of the 2024 championship.

5. X Man!!

After the fireworks of day one, Xander Schauffele preserved his lead at the 2024 PGA Championship. He holds a one-shot advantage and will tee off in the final pairing on Saturday, with Collin Morikawa. Eleven holes into round two, Schauffele made his first bogey of the week. The stumble stalled his momentum, as he had played the first ten holes in minus-four. Will the run of seven pars at the end signal a negative turn in the tide of play for Schauffele? We’ll find out on day three. One thing is for sure: minus twelve will not win this tournament. Schauffele will likely need to reach twenty under par over the next two days, to win his first major title.

 

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

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Scottie Scheffler arrested, charged, and released after traffic incident at Valhalla

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As first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, Scottie Scheffler has been detained by police on the way to Valhalla Golf Club this morning due to a traffic misunderstanding.

“Breaking News: World No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler has been detained by police in handcuffs after a misunderstanding with traffic flow led to his attempt to drive past a police officer into Valhalla Golf Club. The police officer attempted to attach himself to Scheffler’s car, and Scheffler then stopped his vehicle at the entrance to Valhalla. The police officer then began to scream at Scheffler to get out of the car.

“When Scheffler exited the vehicle, the officer shoved Scheffler against the car and immediately placed him in handcuffs. He is now being detained in the back of a police car.”

Darlington also posted a video of the dramatic moment which you can view below:

There was an unrelated accident at around 5am, which is what may have caused some of the misunderstanding of which traffic was moving.

Speaking on ESPN, Darlington broke down exactly what he witnessed in full detail:

“Entering Valhalla Golf Club this morning, we witness a car pull around us that was Scottie Scheffler. Scottie Scheffler has been detained by police officers, placed in the back of a police vehicle in handcuffs after he tried to pull around what he believed to be security, ended up being police officers.

“They told him to stop, when he didn’t stop, the police officer attached himself to the vehicle, and Scheffler then travelled another 10 yards before stopping the car.”

“The police officer then grabbed at his arm, attempting to pull him out of the car, before Scheffler eventually opened the door, at which point the police officer pulled Scheffler out of the car, pushed him up against the car and immediately placed him in handcuffs. Scheffler was then walked over to the police car, placed in the back in handcuffs.

“Very stunned about what was happening, he looked towards me as he was in those handcuffs and said ‘please help me’. He very clearly didn’t know what was happening in the situation.”

“It moved very quickly, very rapidly, very aggressively. He was detained in that police vehicle for approximately 20 minutes. The police officers at that point did not understand that Scottie Scheffler was a golfer in the tournament, nor of course that he is the number one player in the world.”

Due to the accident, play has been delayed this morning. Scheffler’s current tee time for the second round of the PGA Championship is 10:08 a.m.

Scheffler’s mugshot following the incident:

*Update*

Scheffler has been charged with 2nd Degree assault of a police officer, criminal mischief 3rd degree, reckless driving and disregarding signals from an officer directing traffic.

*Update*

According to ESPN+, Scottie Scheffler has been released and is now on his way to the golf course.

*Update*

Scottie Scheffler arrives at Valhalla ahead of his 10:08 a.m second round tee time.

*Update*

The PGA of America released this statement regarding the fatal accident, which diverted traffic at Valhalla this morning.

“This morning we were devastated to learn that a worker with one of our vendors was tragically struck and killed by a shuttle bus outside Valhalla Golf Club. This is heartbreaking to all of us involved with the PGA Championship. We extend our sincere condolences to their family and loved ones.” 

Per the PGA Tour, Scheffler released the following statement.

We will update this developing story as more information on the situation is revealed.

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Five Things We Learned: Thursday at the PGA Championship

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It was a year ago that we the north, found ourselves with toes and fingers crossed. The Oak Hill PGA Championship of 2023 finished on schedule, despite the iffiness of weather in upstate New York. It’s 75 degrees today across the Niagara Frontier, which makes it two out of three (2022 was the same way) for sultry, unseasonal weather.

Louisville is, let’s be honest, a much better bet for a May PGA Championship, and Valhalla is an exciting venue for the year’s second major championship on the men’s circuit. Brooks Koepka came in as the defending champion, and Rory McIlroy arrived as the last golfer to win a major at the Nicklaus-designed course. That was a decade ago, and lord, have things changed in the world and golf.

Day one at Valhalla offered walk-in eagles, buckets of birdies, and potential for a record-low, winner’s score. We’ll get right to the meat of the matter, with five things that we learned. After all, if you can make par from the muck, anything’s possible in the land of the horses.

1. X marks this spot

Xander Schauffele went head-to-head last Sunday with Rory McIlroy, at least on the practice green. By the end of the round, Rors had won for a fourth time at Charlotte, while the X Man sat scratching his head, wondering what went wrong. Fortunately for us, Xander didn’t sulk.

The San Diego State alumnus absolutely torched Jack’s track with 62. Four birdies on the front nine, were followed by five more on the inward side. Schauffele never looked as if bogey was a consideration, and he might have gone even lower. Despite winning the Covid-delayed Gold medal at the Japan Olympics (I consider it a major, btdubs) Schauffele continues to chase an initial men’s major, and the validation that it brings. If 62 doesn’t get you over the hump, who knows what will.

2. Scottie starts strong? Aye.

Last month, Mr. Scheffler won a second green jacket at Augusta National. Last year in Rochester, Mr. Scheffler tied for second in this event. Mr. Scheffler began play today with a walk-in eagle, a one-hop affair that never looked as if it might go anywhere but to its home. Scheffler had a few rough holes, but that’s to be expected from a new dad. Each time he made bogey, he bounced back with birdie, so he has that short memory that winners crave. Surprisingly, Scheffler failed to manage one last birdie at the reachable 18th. Perhaps that miss will motivate him in round two.

3. LIV Check-In

It’s good to check in on the departed from time to time, to ensure that the fellows formerly known as PGA Tour members are doing well. It’s safe to say that some of them can still play. Defending champion Brooks Koepka posted 67 on the day, He had an eagle and three birdies on the day, with only a stumble at the 17th. He’s tied for 7th. Bryson DeChambeau made an eagle of his own, but also had a bogey, at the 12th hole. He cohabits eleventh position with Cameron Smith, who ALSO had a bogey on his card. They are one shot behind Koepka, and a fistful more behind the leader.

4. Sahith and Tony at Schauffele’s heels

Both Finau and Theegala represent a special sort of athletic golfer. Their power and their charisma blend to draw golf fans to their groups. Let’s be honest, too, and say that they don’t look like the traditional professional golfer. As much as Tiger Woods did in the 1990s, they have the power to bring greater diversity to the sport.

In terms of their play today, well, only Xander was better. Finau had a clean card, with six birdies and twelve pars. Theegala had seven birdies, ten pars, and one bogey. Each combined power and finesse to insert themselves squarely in contention, ahead of round two. How will they, and Xander as well, manage the afternoon putting surface on Friday? That’s the great unknown!

5. All those other guys are here!

Rory, Tom Kim, Collin, and Viktor are all at minus-three or lower. Valhalla may not be a traditional golf course, but it is the type of course that the world’s best play well. McIlroy currently sits at minus-five, tied with Robert MacIntyre, Kim, and three others in fourth position.  Maverick McNealy finished fast to reach the same figure, as did Tom Hoge. Morikawa closed with birdie to join the sextet at five below. Both Scheffler and Morikawa finished their rounds late on Thursday, meaning they should see smoother greens on Friday morning. If someone is a betting soul, wiser wagers could not be placed on better names than those two, two-time, major champions. Rory will tee off in Friday’s afternoon wave but, hey, he’s Rory, and he won going away last week at Quail Hollow, a course not unlike Valhalla.

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Morning 9: Tiger 2025 Ryder Cup talks continue | Rory: Tour in a worse place with Dunne’s resignation

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Thursday morning, golf fans, as day one of the PGA Championship gets underway from iconic Valhalla.

1. Waugh: 2025 Ryder Cup talks continue with Tiger

Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said Wednesday that the organization continues to have conversations with Tiger Woods about captaining the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2025 and there remains no firm deadline to get their pick in place for Bethpage Black.”

  • “A day earlier, Woods told reporters here at the PGA Championship that he is undecided about taking on the role next year…”
  • “He doesn’t do anything that he’s not fully committed to,” Waugh said, “and we totally respect that.”
  • “Still, the PGA’s decision to hold off on naming an American captain for the September 2025 matches is a significant departure – at least three months late – from the past five captains.”
Full piece.

2. Rory: Tour in a worse place with Dunne’s resignation

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”McIlroy, who has become an outspoken proponent of a deal with PIF, was denied a spot on the board last week but was named to the “transaction subcommittee,” which will spearhead the day-to-day negotiations. But the loss of Dunne will be a blow to those talks, the world No. 2 said.”

  • “Honestly I think it’s a huge loss for the PGA Tour if they are trying to get this deal done with the PIF and trying to unify the game,” McIlroy said. “Jimmy was basically the relationship, the sort of conduit between the PGA Tour and PIF.
  • “It’s been really unfortunate that he has not been involved for the last few months, and I think part of the reason that everything is stalling at the minute is because of that.”
Full piece.

3. Brandel on AK’s criticism: I thought it was a LIV bot

Our Matt Vincenzi…”On Tuesday during an interview with GolfWRX, Chamblee addressed the feud between Kim and himself.”

  • “At first, I thought it was a bot. But it’s not, it was just somebody who’s been bought.
  • “I thought it was juvenile. Social media is a perfect place for juveniles to go behave like children, like the ball pit at McDonalds without adult supervision. I’m sure Anthony Kim scrolls and gets positive comments and says ‘yeah, these people get me! I’m doing the right thing’. And it’s just juvenile and sad is what it is. I feel sorry for him.”
Full piece.

4. Aberg (knee) ready for PGA

Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…”Ludvig Åberg said lingering knee soreness that kept him out of the Wells Fargo Championship last week will not be an issue at this week’s PGA Championship.”

  • “The world No. 6 Åberg, who finished second at the Masters Tournament in his very first major start last month, allowed that he is wearing a brace as a precautionary measure.”
  • “Knee’s good,” said Åberg, 24. “It was more of a safety concern last week that I didn’t play. I’m consulting with my doctors, and I trust them with everything that I have, so it’s not bothering me at all this week, and I look forward to playing. I’m wearing a brace just for safety reasons, but it’s nothing that’s bothering me. I’m focusing on the golf.”
Full piece.

5. Masters employee pleads guilty to stealing millions in memorabilia

Sean Leahy for Yahoo Sports…”A former employee of Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia pleaded guilty on Wednesday to transporting millions of dollars worth of stolen Masters memorabilia and historic items, including a green jacket belonging to Arnold Palmer.”

  • “According to federal prosecutors, 39-year-old Richard Globensky made around $5 million over the course of a decade from selling items stolen from the Augusta National warehouse, which were then transported to another party in Florida.”
  • “Globensky pleaded guilty to one count of transporting stolen goods across state lines. As part of his plea, he must hand the government a $1.5 million check this week.”
Full piece.

6. Chamblee on why Rory hasn’t won a major

Our Matt Vincenzi…”While speaking with GolfWRX, Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee gave his opinion as to why McIlroy has come up empty.”

  • “I just think he can’t find a place mentally where he plays his best golf.”
  • “If you go back and look at what he did from 2011-2014, in that stretch, he led roughly 20% of the rounds he played in major championships. His game has not fallen off, not one bit.
  • “He’s, on paper, pretty much the same player he was. He’s not quite the ball striker he was 2011-2014, not quite, but he’s made up for it with his short game around the greens and on the greens. He’s almost the same player.”
  • “Yet, he’s led just two rounds beginning with the 2015 Masters to the 2024 Masters. I just think that tells you he can’t find the proper way to prepare, the proper way to ease into a round. When he’s needed to play his best, he’s played his worst. When he’s played his worst, he’s then followed it up with his best golf. That’ll tell you that he’s just not in the right place mentally.”
Full piece.

7. Why Scottie’s caddie will have a fill-in Saturday

Paul Hodowanic for PGATour.com…”Scottie Scheffler will have a fill-in caddie on the bag for Saturday’s third round of the PGA Championship.”

  • “Ted Scott, Scheffler’s full-time caddie, will miss Saturday’s round at Valhalla Golf Club to attend his daughter’s high school graduation. Scott will leave Friday night after caddying the first two rounds and return late Saturday to loop the final round.”
  • “That’s something we talked about from the beginning of our relationship was family always comes first,” Scheffler said during his pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday. “It’s the same thing for me as it is for my caddie. It was a pretty easy decision. He told me at the beginning of this year that that was the date.”
Full piece.

8. Chamblee: LIV format makes it impossible to judge player talent

Our Matt Vincenzi…”While speaking with GolfWRX, Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee explained why he believes the LIV format makes it impossible to determine if a LIV player is playing well.”

  • “Describing the format as “stupid”, Chamblee stated
  • “The format for LIV is just stupid. There’s no other word for it. 54 holes, 54 players start. Willy nilly here and there.
  • “Nobody winning a golf tournament should finish on the third hole on some par three while his closest competitors finish on the 17th hole or the 18th hole.”
  • “When we asked Brandel if LIV players should be in majors, Chamblee indicated that it would be tough to do with no way to truly measure their performance.
  • “It’s just a laughable concept. There’s no way to judge the talents of these players out there. You look at their data, and again, their data is laughable. It’s very hard to hit 75% of your greens and it looks like everybody on their tour is hitting 75% of greens. Who’s keeping their stats? Who’s doing their data? They haven’t gotten their act together.”
Full piece.

9. Photos from the 2024 PGA Championship

  • Check out all of our galleries from the year’s second major!
Full piece.
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