Why Was Hideki Matsuyama Disqualified From The Memorial Tournament?

The Japanese star was disqualified on Thursday for the very first time in his PGA Tour career

Hidkei Matsuyama chats to officials as he is disqualified
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's not often that you see golfers disqualified from tournaments, however, on Thursday at The Memorial Tournament (opens in new tab), it happened to former Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama, with the Japanese star being disqualified for having markings on his three-wood that breached PGA Tour regulations.

Matsuyama, who won this very title back in 2014, had made a double-bogey and a bogey as he finished the front nine at three-over-par. As he trudged to the 10th hole, he was approached by a rules official who informed him of his disqualification due to a white paint-like substance on the face of his fairway wood.

Matsuyama's 3-wood with tippex/paint on the face

The fairway wood face of Matsuyama's

(Image credit: Twitter: @PluggedLiePod)

PGA Tour Senior Tournament Director, Steve Rintoul, said images of the club were posted online and his team only learned of them after Matsuyama (opens in new tab) had used the wood on the first tee. If the 30-year-old didn't use the club, he could have kept playing.

Speaking after the disqualification, Rintoul said: "Unfortunately our committee learned right after Hideki had teed off that he may be carrying a club that would be non-conforming.

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

"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."

Hideki Matsuyama watches his tee shot off the tee

Matsuyama had been looking to add to his two PGA Tour successes in the 2021/22 season

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rintoul had actually met with Matsuyama on the fifth hole during the first round, with Rintoul taking pictures of the three-wood. During this time, he told the Japanese star to keep playing as the committee met and even consulted with USGA Equipment Standards staffers. 

However, it was bad news for the World No. 12, as he was disqualified, the first time that Matsuyama has been DQ'd from a PGA Tour event. 

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.