Place of birth: Detroit, Michigan
Died: May 8, 1951
Nickname: Eagle Diegel
1928 PGA Championship
1929 PGA Championship
Awards and Honors:
Member, four U.S. Ryder Cup teams
Leo Diegel Biography:
Diegel, Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen were the first big stars of professional golf in the United States. Diegel was overshadowed by both, particularly Hagen, in life, and is even more so in death. While the names of Hagen and Sarazen are still known to most golf fans, Diegel's is not. It wasn't until 2003 that Diegel was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, and even then it was the result of a Veterans Committee vote.
Diegel had an intense rivalry with Walter Hagen, one that Diegel almost always came up short in. But it was Diegel who ended Hagen's 4-year winning streak at the PGA Championship. Diegel beat Hagen in 1928, and went on to win the PGA that year. He followed it up with another PGA Championship in 1929.
He also played on the first four American Ryder Cup teams. In 1922, Diegel set a 72-hole Tour scoring record with a 275 at the Shreveport Open. And he won the Canadian Open four times.
The World Golf Hall of Fame describes Diegel's golf game: "Regarded as a superlative striker of the ball, Diegel overcame a balky putter by developing a distinctive putting style - his unorthodox elbows-out technique was often referred to as 'Diegeling.' "
"Diegeling" meant hunching forward over the putt, bent almost 90 degrees at the waist, with both elbows sticking straight out to the side. The forearms formed a straight line, locked by the hands on the putter handle, that was parallel to the putting line, and the left elbow pointed at the cup.
Diegel retired in 1935 and became a teacher of the game. He wrote an instructional book entitled "The Nine Bad Shots of Golf." Diegel served as a golf pro in Arizona and helped found the Tucson Open tournament.