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Thursday's golf: 4-way tie for early lead at Memorial; Matsuyama disqualified

Associated Press

Dublin, Ohio — Just being at the Memorial was a reminder how far Cameron Young has come in the last year. Having a share of the early lead was another example of how well he is playing.

In his first start since challenging at the PGA Championship, Young finished with two birdies over his last three holes for a 5-under 67 on rain-softened Muirfield Village.

He was tied with Luke List, Cameron Smith and K.H. Lee, all of whom have PGA Tour victories this season. That's what Young still pursues, and he keeps giving himself chances.

A year ago, the son of a club pro was coming off consecutive wins on the Korn Ferry Tour that moved him up some 300 spots in the world ranking to No. 170. Now he is at No. 30, with five top-three finishes in his rookie season, three times a runner-up.

The most recent was at Southern Hills, when Young was tied for the lead heading to the 14th tee in the final round of the PGA. His chances ended with a double bogey on the 16th.

And then he was right back at it at the Memorial, making a 15-foot eagle on the par-5 15th on his way to a 31 on his opening nine holes, overcoming a few bogeys on the front nine and capping off another solid day with a 30-foot birdie putt.

The greens were firm during practice and still rolled well, though players could take aim at flags because of enough rain and cloud cover. That took some adjusting. Muirfield Village was still tough enough that bogeys were easy to find.

List, who picked up his first win at Torrey Pines in January, had only one bogey in his 67. Smith was slowed by a few bogeys on the front nine after making the turn. Lee holed out from fairway on No. 9 for eagle, only to follow with back-to-back bogeys.

Will Zalatoris, who lost in the PGA Championship playoff to Thomas, had eight birdies in his round of 68 and wasn't sure what to make of his round.

“I did not think 68 with eight birdies was in the cards when I came out Monday, Tuesday,” Zalatoris said.

He figured out the difference quickly, a wedge on the 13th hole that landed near the flag and spun back 15 feet. Earlier in the week, he saw shots like that bound over the green into trouble.

What helped in any conditions was his putting. Zalatoris and 11 consecutive one-putt greens, one of those for bogey, until the streak ended when he missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fourth.

Defending champion Patrick Cantlay didn't find nearly as many birdies as everyone else from the morning wave, just two birdies against two bogeys for an even-par 72. Collin Morikawa, who lost to Cantlay in the playoff at the Memorial last year, had two birdies for a 71.

Jon Rahm, who had a six-shot lead after 54 holes last year until having to withdraw because of a positive COVID-19 test, played in the afternoon.

Matsuyama disqualified for too much paint on his 3-wood

Former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was disqualified Thursday when officials determined he had too much paint on the face of his 3-wood that he was using for alignment.

It was the first time Matsuyama, who won the Memorial in 2014 for his first PGA Tour victory, had ever been disqualified on the PGA Tour.

Chief referee Steve Rintoul said rules officials were made aware of 10 small lines forming a circle on the face of his 3-wood. Matsuyama had just teed off at Muirfield Village and was approached on the second hole.

It's OK to have a non-conforming club in the bag as long as it hasn't been used. Matsuyama said he used it for his opening tee shot.

Rintoul said he met him on the fifth fairway to talk to the Japanese star and to take pictures of the club. He then brought in the USGA and the tour's equipment standards leader to make sure, and the result was disqualification.

The alignment aid was not at issue, rather the substance used to create the lines was thick enough that it could affect the flight of the ball.

Rule 4.1-a(3) states players cannot hit a shot with a club that has been changed “by applying any substance to the clubhead (other than in cleaning it) to affect how it performs in making a stroke.”

Rintoul described the substance as white-out used in fixing typographical errors on paper.

“There was a lot of white,” he said. “A white-out substance that was very much up on the face of the club, which, really, it's very clear in equipment rules that is not allowed.”

He said he closed his yes and rubbed his fingernail across the face of the club. In one direction he could feel the paint, and the other direction he couldn't.

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

Rintoul said someone in the golf industry whom he declined to identify pointed out pictures of Matsuyama's club that had been taken a few days ago. They reached Matsuyama too late to keep him from using the club in competition.

“But the damage was done on the first hole,” Rintoul said. “Just unfortunate set of circumstances for Hideki, for sure."

Matsuyama left after nine holes — he was 3-over par — without comment. His next tournament is the U.S. Open in two weeks.

LPGA Tour

Southern Pines, N.C. — Sweden’s Ingrid Lindblad shot the lowest round by an amateur in the 77-year history of the U.S. Women's Open, a 6-under 65 that gave her the early lead Thursday at Pine Needles.

“She was fearless,” said playing partner Annika Sorenstam, Sweden’s most famous female golfer.

Because she’s an amateur, Lindblad wouldn’t be able to collect the record $1.8 million first-place prize if she holds on to win the event. She would have had to declare as a professional before the tournament began.

When asked if, in hindsight, that was a mistake, the 22-year-old LSU junior known to her friends as “Iggy" paused and said with a smile, “I’m going to stay in college for like another year or so."

Australia’s Minjee Lee and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist both shot 67 in the morning, and are two strokes behind after the early tee times. Several golfers remained on the course.

Lindblad finished tied 30th at 6-over 292 in her only other U.S. Women’s Open appearance in 2020.

She set the tone for a strong opening round in Southern Pines by winning the Southeastern Conference individual championship in April after making a 38-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole.

Three amateurs had previously shot 66 — Carol Semple Thompson in 1994, Brittany Lincicome in 2004 and Gina Kim in 2019.

Lindblad said she had no idea she'd broken the amateur record until her coach told her as she was walking off the course.

She was in the zone from the start on Thursday.

While she only hit eight of 14 fairways, she just needed 26 putts to complete the round. Her only hiccup was a bogey on the par-5 10th hole. But she made up for it with seven birdies, getting a first pump from Sorenstam after draining a putt on hole No. 2.

Catherine Lacoste, the daughter of French tennis player Rene Lacoste and 1927 British Ladies Amateur champion Simone Thion de la Chaume, was the only amateur to win the U.S. Women’s Open back in 1967.