Hideki Matsuyama receives first PGA Tour disqualification for illegal club markings

    Hideki Matsuyama is disqualified from the Memorial Tournament on the 10th tee box.

    (CNN)Hideki Matsuyama was disqualified during the opening round of the Memorial Tournament on Thursday after illegal markings were found on one of his clubs.

    The Japanese golfer, winner of the Masters in 2021, was ruled out of the PGA Tour event at Muirfield Village Golf in Ohio on the 10th tee after a white, paint-like substance applied to the face of his 3-wood was found to be in violation of equipment rules.
    It is the first time that Matsuyama, ranked 12th in the world, has been disqualified from a PGA Tour event, coming at the tournament which he achieved the first of his eight PGA Tour wins at in 2014.
      Chief referee and PGA Tour Senior Tournament Director Steve Rintoul said officials had been made aware of a potential "non-conforming" club after Matsuyama's initial tee-off and had spoken to the 30-year-old to confirm that he had used it.
        Matsuyama hits a tee shot at the ninth hole.
        "He was very honest and forthright about it," Rintoul, who spoke with Matsuyama personally on the fifth fairway, said, according to the PGA Tour website.
        The markings were applied by one of the Japanese golfers' team to aid with alignment, Rintoul said. While it is not a violation of the rules to add small sharpie marks to help alignment, it is when it is deemed to "unduly affect the performance of a ball," the referee explained.
        "What was done there with that substance, which is very much a white-out substance we would use at home, was a coding not only in the grooves but was very thick along the face," Rintoul told NBC Sports.
          "Now, he's applied a substance to the face, which renders the club non-conforming ... a player is disqualified if they use a non-conforming club."
          Having shot a 3-over 39 on the first nine holes, Matsuyama was informed of his disqualification at the 10th tee.
          "I'm not going to say he was expecting it, but it wasn't as much a surprise as it would have been if it had been unknown," Rintoul said.
          Matsuyama had been chasing his second PGA Tour win of 2022 after triumphing at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January.
          Matsuyama plays a shot on the fifth hole.

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