Hideki Matsuyama was disqualified from the PGA Tour’s Memorial tournament.© AFP

Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama was disqualified from the PGA Tour’s Memorial tournament in bizarre circumstances on Thursday after officials found an illegal substance on his 3-wood. The 2021 Masters champion was given his marching orders after it emerged white correction fluid used to help center the ball was used on the face of the club. The infraction was brought to the attention of rules officials after photos of the doctored club were posted on social media. “Our committee became aware through some pictures that were posted that there may be a substance that has been painted on the face of one of Hideki’s clubs,” PGA Tour chief referee Steve Rintoul said.

“Unfortunately, when we found out about it, Hideki was playing the second hole.”

Rintoul said Matsuyama was asked if he was carrying the club and whether he had used it. A non-conforming club can be carried in a golfer’s bag provided it is not used.

Rintoul said, however, that Matsuyama had acknowledged using the club off the first tee as the tournament at Muirfield Village got under way.

“The damage was done,” Rintoul said. “One shot and it’s a disqualification.”

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Rintoul said that while minor markings such as a “Sharpie dot here and there” that would not influence the flight of the ball, the amount of whiteout on Matsuyama’s club exceeded what was allowed.

“It was actually quite thick on the face of the club,” Rintoul added.

“A Sharpie dot — the equipment standards people says a Sharpie dot is fine, it cannot influence the flight of a ball.

“But when you start applying that much material, that can take spin off a ball or can affect the flight, that’s when they go to nonconforming.”

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