Why Hideki Matsuyama got DQ’d at the Memorial


It wouldn’t be the Memorial without a player being pulled from the tournament in strange circumstances.

Last year, runaway leader Jon Rahm was withdrawn from the event at the end of the third round after testing positive for COVID-19.

This year, it’s Hideki Matsuyama who’s licking his wounds after being forced into an early exit from Muirfield Village.

The former Masters champion was disqualified for having “illegal markings” on one of his clubs.

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An image widely shared online ahead of the tournament showed the clubface of Matsuyama’s 3-wood had been embellished with what appeared to be a Tipp-Ex style substance. 

According to PGA Tour senior tournament director Steve Rintoul, the Japanese ace used the club on the first hole of the tournament. He was told of his disqualification after he finished playing the ninth.

“Unfortunately our committee learned right after Hideki had teed off that he may be carrying a club that would be non-conforming,” explained Rintoul.

“There is a substance that has been applied to the face by a gentleman that works on Hideki’s clubs.

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“Rule 4a(3) within the equipment rules speaks to applying a substance to the face could unduly affect the performance of a ball; the flight, the spin, all the performance of the ball.

“Those markings were placed there by his club guy to help with alignment. Assistance with alignment by placing a small Sharpie mark on the face or small Sharpie line on the face is certainly allowed.”

Hideki Matsuyama Club

He added: “But what was done there with that substance which is very much like a whiteout substance we would use at home, was a coating that was not only in the grooves but was very thick along the face, and now he’s applied a substance to the face, which renders the club non-conforming.

“Under 4.1a under the rules of golf, a player is disqualified if he uses a non-conforming club.”

It was the first disqualification of Matsuyama’s career.

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