Hideki Matsuyama disqualified from Memorial Tournament for illegal marking on club

·3 min read

Hideki Matsuyama was disqualified from the Memorial Tournament on Thursday due to an illegal marking on one of his clubs.

It was the first disqualification of Matsuyama's career.

The moment was captured on the broadcast.

The issue came down to markings on Matsuyama's 3-wood. The club was featured on the @golfWRX Instagram page hours before Matsuyama got disqualified. PGA Tour senior tournament director Steve Rintoul said they actually pictures of the club on social media on Thursday morning, which is what prompted them to take a closer look.

The club face has white markings that appear to form a circle in the middle of the club.

Rintoul explained the the substance on the face of Matsuyama's club was similar to white out. Rintoul said it was an excessive amount of white out, leading the PGA to determine it was a non-conforming club.

PGA Tour officials tried to speak with Matsuyama early in the event, and approached him on his second hole of the day.

Matsuyama said he had the club on him and used it on the first hole. By the fifth hole, after Rintoul went back to "do our due diligence," it was clear that Matsuyama had to be disqualified.

While he said it's OK to have markings on certain parts of clubs, the markings that Matsuyama had were too excessive.

"The equipment rules are very specific," Rintoul said. "It's OK to have very small discrete markings on your face for alignment purposes, like a Sharpie dot here and there that aren't going to influence the ball. But that much substance is clearly above what the equipment rules allow."

Rintoul said he wasn't sure how long Matsuyama may have been applying the substance to his clubs, but he believes this hasn't been an ongoing thing.

"I think we would have learned about it. He's on camera all the time," he said. "He steps on camera all the time. I think this was fresh this week. It's a relatively new 3-wood, it looked like. He was looking for a place to make sure he had the ball centered in the face. They just went about it with like a paper, whiteout brush, and there it was."

Before being disqualified, Matsuyama drew attention from fans after this miraculous bridge shot.

Matsuyama won the Memorial Tournament in 2014. His biggest tournament win came in 2021, when he became the first Asian professional golfer to win the Masters.

The 30-year-old has five top-10 finishes so far this season and two wins, both at the Zozo Championship last fall and at the Sony Open in Hawaii, which marked his eighth career win.

"My worst fear — I was hoping he hasn't used it the first tee, hasn't used it the second tee. We were going to get to him before the third tee, which I'm thinking he might use it on the third tee," Rintoul said. "But the damage was done on the first hole, unfortunately.

"Just unfortunate set of circumstances for Hideki for sure."

Six players are tied for the lead at 5-under after Round 1.

Hideki Matsuyama at the Memorial Tournament
Hideki Matsuyama of Japan was disqualified due to markings on one of his clubs. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
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