Former champion Hideki Matsuyama was disqualified from the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio in the middle of his first round on Thursday for illegally marking one of his clubs.
Matsuyama, who took his first eight-round PGA win at the 2014 Memorial Tournament, was disqualified from the event hosted by Jack Nicklaus after discovering stripes drawn on his three wood face.
This was the first time that the former Masters Champion had been disqualified from a PGA Tour event.
Steve Rintoul, the PGA Tour’s senior tournament director, said the club’s photos were posted online and his team only learned of them after Matsuyama used them in the first shirt. Had he not used the club, he could have continued to play.
Rintoul said his team approached Matsuyama on the second hole to ask if he had used the club and the former Masters champion was upfront about that.
“The material was applied to the face in order to align with Hideki to place the ball inside the circle of the lines. This is actually the center of the face,” Rintoul told reporters.
“And applying a separate little dot with a Sharpie to help you align is fine. We have players doing that all the time. But the amount of substance that appeared on the face of the club, when we sent it to the USGA, the guys of their equipment standards, was exaggerated.
“And that can affect – and can affect – the performance of the ball.”
Matsuyama, who was playing on set alongside Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed, was over 39 when he landed a role at Muirfield Village after a double bogey on the second hole and bogey on the sixth.