Scheffler Detained at PGA Championship, Creating Uncertainty for Sports Bettors

Scheffler was scheduled to tee off at 10:08 ET on Friday for the second round of the tournament. If he were unable to play via disqualification or withdrawal, it could have had huge consequences for betting markets.

Geoff Zochodne - Senior News Analyst at
Geoff Zochodne • Senior News Analyst
May 17, 2024 • 09:13 ET • 4 min read
Scottie Scheffler PGA Championship PGA Tour
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was a new one.

Scottie Scheffler was detained by police in Kentucky on Friday morning, before the start of the second round of the PGA Championship.

The incident created some uncertainty about the liability that built up on the world’s top golfer at sports betting sites, but Scheffler was released and ultimately made his originally scheduled tee time.

ESPN reporter Jeff Darlington posted that Scheffler was detained “after a misunderstanding with traffic flow led to his attempt to drive past a police officer” into Valhalla Golf Club, where the PGA Championship is being played this week.

Darlington then posted a video of Scheffler being led away by officers in handcuffs in the morning darkness ahead of the start of the second round of the second golf major of 2024.

Play at the PGA Championship had already been pushed back an hour and 20 minutes on Friday after a person was reportedly fatally struck by a shuttle bus near Valhalla in Louisville, KY.

While the situation has other implications, Scheffler is also one of the most popular choices among sports bettors to win the PGA Championship. It would be his second major title this year (and in a row as well) if he were to pull it off. 

Scheffler was scheduled to tee off at 10:08 ET on Friday. If he had been unable to play via disqualification or withdrawal, it could have had huge consequences for betting markets.

ESPN, however, reported on their broadcast at around 8:40 a.m. ET that Scheffler had been released from custody and was heading to the golf course.

Scheffler then arrived at Valhalla at around 9:12 a.m. ET and was hitting golf balls on the driving range a half-hour before his scheduled tee time. He teed off shortly after 10:08 a.m.

While it was ultimately not an issue, it was also possible under the rules of golf that Scheffler's tee time could have been pushed back without penalty if officials approved.

Nevertheless, as the number one golfer in the world, Scheffler is a large liability for regulated sports betting sites. 

At FanDuel, for instance, Scheffler was the top pick to win the PGA title by handle, with the operator reporting on Thursday that 16% of the money was on the 2024 Masters champ. 

“Scottie Scheffler outright and top 10 also continue to take wager after wager,” BetMGM sports trader Matthew Wall said in a statement on Thursday.

The rule at many online sportsbooks is that a bet is official once a golfer tees off. Scheffler did that on Thursday, shooting a 67 to end the day tied for 12th at -4.

That meant Scheffler backers could have found themselves out of luck if he could not play the rest of the weekend. 

“A player is deemed to have played once they have teed off,” bet365’s rules for outright golf betting say. “In the event of a player withdrawing after having teed off then the wager will be lost on outright, group, match or 18 hole betting.”

BetMGM confirmed to Covers that since the tournament began on Thursday and Scheffler had played, bettors would have lost their outright winner tickets if he had been DQ'd or otherwise unable to continue. 

"Round 2 specials would have been refunded if he did not tee off," BetMGM's Drew O’Dell said in an email on Friday morning. "Thankfully, he made the tee time and is playing right now."

No small thing

A Scheffler DQ could have affected a lot of BetMGM customers. 

The operator reported after Scheffler teed off on Friday that he remained their biggest liability in the outright winner market for the PGA Championship. That was even with his odds shortening to +450 as of around 10:30 a.m. ET.

Scheffler accounted for 17.2% of tournament winner tickets and 27.7% of the handle for the market, BetMGM said. The second-largest liability for the bookmaker was defending PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka, who had attracted 9.1% of tickets and 11.3% of the money, albeit at longer odds of +1200

DraftKings, meanwhile, reported at around 11:20 a.m. ET on Friday that Scheffler to win was responsible for 31% of bets and 42% of handle in the PGA Championship outright market. That was three and four times more, respectively, than the numbers for the next closest golfer, Rory McIlroy. 

Scheffler's odds were +360 at DraftKings at that point, behind only tournament leader Xander Schauffele at +240.

What else do we know?

WAVE News in Kentucky reported that Scheffler was booked at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections after being arrested on several charges.

The outlet said those charges were: second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving, and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

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