Hideki Matsuyama disqualified from the Memorial Tournament
Winner at Muirfield Village in 2014, he unknowingly violated Equipment Standards Rule 4.c(3)
June 02, 2022
By Cameron Morfit , PGATOUR.COM
- Hideki Matsuyama has two wins this season on the PGA TOUR. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, Ohio – Hideki Matsuyama was disqualified from the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday for using a non-conforming club, violating Equipment Standards Rule 4.c(3).
Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed, the other members of the group, were left to play as a twosome.
The modification in question was a Liquid Paper-like substance on the face of Matsuyama’s 3-wood. One of his equipment people had applied it as an alignment aid, but it made the club non-conforming in that it could have changed the spin and other flight characteristics of the ball.
“Don’t paint the face of your clubs,” said Chief Referee Steve Rintoul. “You can have a Sharpie marking for alignment, but that much substance is above what the Rules allow.”
An online picture of the club came to the attention of Rules officials shortly after Matsuyama teed off at 1 p.m. Matsuyama could have avoided disqualification if he'd merely been carrying the club, but when an official caught up to him at the second tee, he said he’d used it on the first.
“He was very honest and forthright about it,” Rintoul said.
But the damage was done – if the club was in fact non-conforming. Rintoul met with Matsuyama on the fifth hole, took pictures of the 3-wood, and told the Japanese star to keep playing as the committee met and even consulted with USGA Equipment Standards staffers.A closer look at the club that was deemed non-conforming. (Courtesy of GolfWRX)
In the end, there was simply too much substance on the club. Matsuyama, who captured the first of his eight PGA TOUR titles at the 2014 Memorial, had shot a 3-over 39 on the front nine when he was notified of the disqualification on the 10th tee.
“I think after we talked about in the 5th fairway,” Rintoul said, “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.”
Matsuyama is fifth in the FedExCup after victories at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP and Sony Open in Hawaii. Last season he became the first player from Japan to win a men’s major as he captured the Masters Tournament. But his Memorial week ended early.
“My worst fear – I was hoping he hasn't used it the first tee, hasn't used it the second tee,” said Rintoul. “We were going to get to him before the third tee, which I'm thinking he might use it on the third tee. But the damage was done on the first hole, unfortunately.
“Just unfortunate set of circumstances for Hideki for sure.”
Rules official explains Hideki Matsuyama’s disqualification at the Memorial