[PHOTO: Michael Reaves]

Although admittedly hesitant to do so, Scottie Scheffler said on Tuesday (US time) that his legal team was prepared to file a lawsuit against the city of Louisville and its police department after his arrest on May 17 at the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. That proved to be unnecessary when charges against the world No.1 were dropped on May 29.

“That was something that if we needed to use it, I think Steve [Romines, his attorney] was more than ready to use that, just because there was a ton of evidence in our favour,” Scheffler said at the Memorial Tournament, the $US20 million signature PGA Tour event hosted by Jack Nicklaus. “There were eyewitnesses on the scene that corroborated my story and the video evidence, the police officer talking to me after. All the evidence pointed to exactly what my side of the story was, and so if we needed to… if I had to show up in court, I think Steve was more than prepared to pursue legal action.

“I did not want to have to pursue legal action against Louisville because at the end of the day, the people of Louisville are then going to have to pay for the mistakes of their police department, and that just doesn’t seem right,” Scheffler added. “At no point did I ever want to sue them, but if it came there, I think my lawyer was more than prepared to use that as more of like a bargaining chip-type thing more than anything.”

Scheffler, 27, the reigning Masters champion, was arrested by Louisville police detective Bryan Gillis and faced several charges, including felony and second-degree assault of a police officer, after being stopped by Gillis while trying to enter Valhalla to begin his preparations for the second round of the PGA. Gillis alleged that Scheffler failed to follow instructions, accelerated in his marked courtesy SUV, and dragged him to the ground, causing minor injuries. Traffic was chaotic around the entrance of Valhalla after a tournament volunteer was struck and killed by a shuttle bus.

After being finger-printed and having his mugshot taken (after having to change into orange prison garb) Scheffler was released from jail in time for his second-round tee-time. He somehow carded a five-under 66, but the Texan went on to finish T-8 after shooting his first over-par score of the year (73) in the third round that dropped him from contention.

Scheffler said that he learned on Friday, May 24, while competing in the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, that the charges were likely to be dropped. He said that Romines described the process using a golf analogy, going from, “a one-foot putt to it’s on the lip, kind of thing, and then nothing is obviously official until it becomes really official,” he said. “But I think Friday afternoon it was pretty official in our mind. They just needed to meet with the judge to go over details.”

Still getting used to being a new father, especially the changing of nappies and burping his son Bennett, Scheffler said he feels ready for the upcoming three-week stretch of tournaments that begins with the Memorial before the US Open at Pinehurst and another signature event immediately after that at the Travelers Championship. In fact, he said getting his mind right to compete hasn’t been an issue after the weird proceedings in Louisville. Business as usual. Except for taking some grief from his friends.

“Yeah, my friends will joke about it, but that’s because they’re my friends,” he said, grinning. “Friends are supposed to joke about that kind of stuff. But those are the same guys that will also give me a hug and ask me if I’m all right.”

Is he all right? Winner of four events this year, Scheffler said he isn’t quite back to normal from the incident in Louisville. “I would say that I still, wouldn’t have 100 percent moved past it because, yeah, the charges are dropped, but I still… now it’s almost more appropriate for people to ask me about it and ask me about the situation,” he said. “To be honest with you, it’s not something that I love reliving, just because it was fairly traumatic for me being arrested going into the golf course.

“When the charges were dropped, that’s kind of only the beginning of kind of getting past it, if that makes sense,” he continued. “So, kind of operating through that now. It was definitely a bit of a relief, but not total relief because that’s something that will always, I think, kind of stick with me.

“That mugshot,” he added, smiling, “I’m sure is not going anywhere anytime soon.”

It’s a lot to process for person who doesn’t hesitate to express his Christian faith and has never been in trouble with the law with the exception of your run-of-the-mill speeding fine or two. Or maybe a parking fine.

“I think that’s part of also kind of the recovery process from the whole scenario, is your brain tries to figure out how this happened, and I will probably never figure out why or how this happened,” Scheffler said. “It’s just one of those deals that it will always be kind of ingrained in my season this year, but with time, people will forget.”

Maybe. But remember, there is that mugshot.