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Leo Diegel

By

Golfer Leo Diegel

Leo Diegel tees off in the 1929 Ryder Cup.

Central Press/Getty Images

Leo Diegel won 30 times, mostly in the 1920s, and including two majors. He was noted for his very distinctive putting style that was called "Diegeling."

Date of birth: April 27, 1899
Place of birth: Detroit, Michigan
Date of death: May 8, 1951
Nickname: Eagle Diegel

Tour Victories:

30

Major Championships:

2
• 1928 PGA Championship
• 1929 PGA Championship

Awards and Honors:

• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• Member, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1933

Leo Diegel Biography:

Fewer than 20 golfers in PGA Tour history have won 30 or more tour events. Leo Diegel is one of them.

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 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 lowered the 72-hole scoring record in a tour event to 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.

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