Naomichi Ozaki & the Curious Case of the Mouthpiece DQ

Naomichi Ozaki Photo Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images
Out of Japan yesterday came an interesting story

It has nothing to do with Ryo Ishikawa... who's currently T16 at the Token Homemate Cup... but instead involves Naomichi Ozaki, a brilliant player at the other end of the age spectrum, playing in the same tournament.

The 55-year-old, known as Joe, has won 32 times on the Japan Tour, has played on the PGA Tour in the 80s and 90s and has recently been playing on the Champions Tour where he's finished 2nd two times. Yesterday however, Ozaki  ran afoul of Rule 14-3.

For those who don't have their rule books handy that's the one that deals with "Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Unusual Use of Equipment".

The "equipment" in question is being described as a "mouthpiece" and here's what I found most interesting: it seems these "mouthpieces" can actually give a player more distance.  From what I understand, the veteran player was discussing the device... and the added distance he got from it... when the realization hit that a mouthpiece, when used for enhancement rather than protection, could be illegal.  Rules officials were asked and ultimately the result was disqualification.

For now I've only found this story in Japanese but I'm guessing there'll be more on it by tomorrow.  In the meantime I'm trying to figure out where I can obtain one of those mouthpieces.

Thank you Minoru Mike Aoki for sharing this unusual story.