Hideki Matsuyama turned professional in 2013, and until Thursday at the Memorial he had never been disqualified from a tournament on the PGA Tour.
Matsuyama was approached by tournament officials as he walked off the ninth green in the middle of his first round and was informed he was being disqualified because of an illegal marking on the face of his 3-wood.
The club had white paint on the face near the impact area, bringing rule 4.a.(3) in to play, which states:
A substance or any treatment can't be applied to the face of a club which could influence the flight of the ball, the spin, the loft or anything on the ball, how the ball performs.
According to PGA Tour rules official Steve Rintoul, the issue was that the marking was on the face of the club as opposed to being down in the grooves of the club.
"If the paint had been down in the grooves and in the bottom of the grooves where it's not on the face, not making contact with the ball, again, no problem," Rintoul said Thursday at the Memorial. "But it was the face."
Once it was determined that Matsuyama had used a non-conforming club, he was disqualified under rule 4-1(a).
Matsuyama’s early exit left Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed to play the back nine Thursday – and Friday’s round – as a twosome.
Matsuyama was 3 over through nine holes before the disqualification.