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Why was Hideki Matsuyama disqualified from the Memorial Tournament in Ohio?

The former Masters champion was kicked out of the tournament in Dublin, Ohio, midway through his first round on Thursday.

DUBLIN, OHIO - JUNE 02: Hideki Matsuyama of Japan stands on the first tee box during the first round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 2, 2022 in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
Ben JaredGetty

It’s not something we see a lot, especially from the top players, but former champion Hideki Matsuyama was disqualified midway through his first round of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, on Thursday. And would you believe it, it was due to an illegal marking on one of his clubs.

What club marking was Matsuyama disqualified for?

The disqualification came during the Jack Nicklaus-hosted event after painted lines were discovered on the face of his three wood. And that was the end of that for Matsuyama, who earned the first of his eight PGA Tour wins at the 2014 Memorial Tournament, and was the first time the former Masters champion has been disqualified from a PGA Tour event.

PGA Tour senior tournament director Steve Rintoul said images of the club were posted online and his team only learned of them after Matsuyama had used it on the first tee. Had the club in question not been used, he could have played on.

Why did the club markings spell disqualification?

It was on the second hole when Rintoul’s team approached Matsuyama to ask if he had used the club and the former Masters champion was forthright about it.

“The material was applied to the face for alignment for Hideki to set the ball inside the circle of the lines. That’s actually the center of the face,” Rintoul told reporters.

“And applying a small, discrete dot with a Sharpie to help you with alignment is fine. We have players who do it all the time. But the amount of substance that was up on the face of the club, when we sent it to the USGA, their equipment standards guys, it was just excessive.

“And that’s what could affect, could affect, the performance of the ball.

Matsuyama, playing in a group alongside Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed, was three-over-par 39 when he reached the turn at Muirfield Village after a double-bogey at the second hole and bogey at the sixth.