Former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama has been disqualified from the Memorial Tournament after officials determined that his 3-wood face had too much paint he was using to align it.
This is the first time Matsuyama, who won the Memorial in 2014 for winning her first PGA Tour, has been disqualified from the PGA Tour.
Chief referee Steve Rintoul said rule officials were aware of 10 short lines forming a circle in Matsuyama’s 3-wood face. He had just reached the village of Muerfield and reached the second hole.
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As a rule, it is okay to keep a non-conforming club in a player’s bag unless it is used in a game. Matsuyama said he used the illegal club for his opening tee shot.
Rintul said he met Matsuyama at the fifth fairway to talk to the Japanese star and take pictures of the club. He then brought in USGA and tour equipment to convince the quality leader and the result was incompetence.
The alignment support was not problematic, but the material used to make the line was thick enough that it could affect the flight of the ball.
Rule 4.1-a (3) states that players cannot hit a shot with a club that has been altered “by applying any substance to the clubhead (except to clean it) affects how it produces strokes.”
Rintul described the substance as a white-out to correct errors written on paper.
“There was a lot of white,” he said.
“A white-out substance that was on top of the club’s face, which, really, is very clear in the equipment rules that are not allowed.”
She closed her eyes and rubbed her fingernails across the club face. On the one hand he could feel the paint, and on the other he could not.
“It was thick enough that you could lift it towards the face,” he said.
Rintul said someone in the golf industry whom he refused to identify had taken pictures of the Matsuyama Club a few days earlier. They arrived at Matsuyama too late to prevent him from using the club in competitions.
“The first hole was damaged,” he said.
“Definitely an unfortunate situation for Hideki.”
Matsuyama left after nine holes – he was equal to 3-overs – without comment.
His next tournament is the US Open, which starts on June 16.
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