Jeff Darlington discusses Scottie Scheffler's arrest on ESPN's 'First Take.' Screen grab: ESPN

Imagine you’re Jeff Darlington.

You’re arriving at work just after 6 a.m. to fulfill your duties covering one of the biggest golf events of the year. You’re probably not even camera-ready yet. You’re definitely tired. And suddenly, you become not only a witness, but a part of one of the biggest news stories of the day.

That’s exactly what happened to Darlington on Friday, as he arrived at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville for the second round of the PGA Championship. As fate would have it, Scottie Scheffler was arriving at the exact same time, with the world’s No. 1 golfer winding up in handcuffs after reportedly ignoring directions from police officers.

Darlington used his cellphone to film police detaining Scheffler, who was ultimately booked (mugshot and everything) and charged with second degree assault of a police officer, third degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from officers directing traffic. Darlington broke the news of Scheffler’s arrest on X at 6:35 a.m. ET, before sharing his video of the world’s No. 1 golfer being detained less than an hour later.

There’s being at the right place at the right time, and then there’s whatever you want to call the circumstances that placed Darlington at the entrance of Valhalla at the same time as Scheffler on Friday morning. Fate, however, was only half the battle as Darlington and ESPN proceeded to own the coverage of Scheffler’s shocking arrest throughout the entirety of its morning block.

Prior to the start of play — which was delayed as the result of a separate traffic incident that resulted in the death of a pedestrian — ESPN+’s coverage of the PGA Championship saw Darlington join Dave Flemming live in the broadcast booth, where they talked about the story as a news event and gave constant updates. Darlington also joined ESPN’s SportsCenter, Get Up and First Take, where he provided his firsthand account of the arrest, including the detail that officers didn’t realize who they had arrested until after the fact.

Back on ESPN+, Marty Smith was on the ground reporting and provided incredible details about Scheffler’s return to the course following his booking, including that he sat down in the clubhouse and ate a plate of eggs before his round. Smith also got an interview with Scheffler’s playing partner, Brian Harman, as ESPN+ continued to focus on his preparations for his 10:08 a.m. tee time.

Once Scheffler hit the course, First Take — which had just begun — went live to Louisville where it aired the lead up to, and ultimately, his first tee shot.

While ESPN has had issues covering breaking news on the fly as recently as last month, that certainly wasn’t the case on Friday. From Darlington to Flemming to Smith to Michael Collins, the Worldwide Leader in sports had no shortage of experts on-site and showed impressive versatility and news judgment in steering its coverage on both its linear channel and ESPN+.

ESPN’s coverage of Scheffler’s arrest stood in stark contrast to the Golf Channel, which bizarrely didn’t offer any live coverage of the matter. It also served as a reminder of the importance being on-scene, as you never know what type of news you might be a witness to — literally.

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.