Hideki Matsuyama disqualified for too much paint on his 3wood PGA Memorial Tournament club

Former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was disqualified from the memorial tournament after officials determined he had too much paint on the face of his 3 wood he used for lining up.

This is the first time that Matsuyama, who won the Memorial in 2014 for his first PGA Tour victory, has been disqualified on the PGA Tour.

Chief umpire Steve Rintoul said rules officials were made aware of 10 small lines forming a circle on the face of Matsuyama’s 3 wood. He had just played at Muirfield Village and was approached on the second hole.

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According to the rules, it is acceptable for a player to have a non-conforming club in his bag as long as it is not used in play. Matsuyama said he used the illegal club on his first tee shot.

Rintoul said he met Matsuyama on the fifth fairway to speak to the Japanese star and take pictures of the club. He then appealed to the USGA and the tour’s equipment standards manager to make sure, and the result was disqualification.

The lineout aid was not at fault, but the substance used to create the lines was thick enough to affect ball flight.

Rule 4.1-a(3) states that players may not strike a stroke with a club that has been changed “by applying any substance to the clubhead (other than to clean it) to affect its performance when execution of a blow”.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyam is disqualified from the tournament on the 10th tee box during the first round of the Memorial Tournament. (PGA TOUR)

Rintoul described the substance as whiteout used to correct errors written on paper.

“There was a lot of white,” he said.

“A white stuff that was very prominent on the face of the club, which, really, is very clear in the rules of equipment that is not allowed.”

He said he closed his eyes and rubbed his fingernail across the club’s face. One way he could feel the paint, and the other way he couldn’t.

“It was thick enough that you could see where it was on the face,” he said.

Rintoul said a person in the golf industry whom he declined to identify pointed to photos of the Matsuyama club that were taken a few days ago. They reached Matsuyama too late to prevent him from using the club in competition.

“The damage was done on the first hole,” he said.

“Just an unfortunate set of circumstances for Hideki, of course.”

Matsuyama left after nine holes – he was 3 over par – without comment.

His next tournament is the US Open which will start on June 16.

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Michael C. Ford