With Empathy as Strong as His Golf, Scottie Scheffler Eulogizes Grayson Murray

The game's top player showed uncommon decency in Louisville three weeks ago and did so again Tuesday in a memorial for a fellow Tour pro, writes Michael Rosenberg.
Scottie Scheffler was asked to eulogize fellow pro Grayson Murray on Tuesday at the Memorial Tournament.
Scottie Scheffler was asked to eulogize fellow pro Grayson Murray on Tuesday at the Memorial Tournament. / Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

DUBLIN, Ohio — The best player in the world brought no notes, only thoughts, and those were more than enough. Scottie Scheffler is always, completely, Scottie Scheffler. It is the key to his steady excellence, the explanation for how he has handled success so well, the reason his recent arrest seemed so obviously not his fault, and why he was asked, Tuesday morning, to speak about a dead friend.

Ten days ago, Grayson Murray said he wasn’t feeling well, withdrew from the PGA Tour event in Fort Worth, went home to Florida, and took his own life. Murray’s family did not attend the memorial service for him at Muirfield Village. But they did suggest potential eulogists. Along with Murray’s caddie, Jay Green, and Webb Simpson, who has a long history with Murray, they mentioned Scheffler.

Scheffler was not the closest to Murray. But he was the closest to what Murray wanted to be. He blends faith, family, human decency and competitive fire so well that asking which comes first misses the point. None of those things come second.

“We’re not designed to live this life on our own,” Scheffler told the gathering near the first tee, which included almost everybody in the Memorial Tournament field. “We all carry a lot more baggage than we let on—myself especially.”

When a person commits suicide, there are layers to the heartbreak. One of them, Scheffler said after the service, is that, “I think we all wish we could have done more for him, wish we could have done things differently. You know, your mind just kind of goes to what you could have done to prevent this from happening.”

Murray talked about his struggles with depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse. So there were signs he might do what he ultimately did, but they were still hard to read at the time. Murray said he had stopped drinking. He won a Tour event for the first time in seven years. He said he had learned from his hotheaded earlier days: “I was young and thought I was invincible.” He had gotten engaged (to Christiana Ritchie). In retrospect, Murray was still searching, and it is not surprising that the search led him to Scheffler.

“It was really fun getting to know him the last few months as he was trying to …, you know, marriage was around the corner for him,” Scheffler said. “He had his fiancee, and he was trying to get his fiancee involved in life out here. He was trying to really be the best version of himself, and to be a great husband. He was looking forward to one day becoming a dad, and it pains me that he’s no longer with us.”

Twice during his eulogy, Scheffler said Murray was “sweet.” That was not the first word that came to mind in Murray’s younger days. The fact that Scheffler saw him that way says something about the work that Murray put into himself. But it also says something about Scheffler.

In the past month, Scheffler has shown extraordinary empathy. After his bizarre and unfounded arrest before the second round of the PGA Championship, Scheffler continually called it a “misunderstanding,” never lashed out at the cop who arrested him, and repeatedly tried to turn attention to the worker, John Mills, who was struck and killed by a car that morning.

Scheffler was asked Tuesday if he will react differently when he hears or reads that somebody was arrested. His answer, basically, was that his arrest taught him a lesson he didn’t need to learn.

“I try not to see people for, kind of, their bad sides,” Scheffler said. “You know, just because somebody is accused of something doesn’t mean that they actually did it. Or maybe they did do it, and maybe they just made a mistake. I think forgiveness is something that’s lost in our society. Just because somebody made a mistake at one point in their life doesn’t mean that they’re a bad person.

“I think sometimes in society people are expecting perfection out of everybody and just because somebody will make one mistake, people will crucify them for that, and I never really believed in that. I believe in forgiveness. I believe in grace.”

Scheffler believed in Grayson Murray. He believed in who he was and who he was becoming. He believed Murray deserved the embrace he craved. At the end of his unscripted eulogy for his 30-year-old friend, Scottie Scheffler said, “Love you, buddy,” then walked back to where he had stood, leaned on his wife, Meredith, and cried.


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Michael Rosenberg

MICHAEL ROSENBERG

Michael Rosenberg joined Sports Illustrated as a senior writer in 2012 after working at the Detroit Free Press for 13 years, eight of them as a columnist.