Leo Diegel

Leo Diegel
Personal information
Full name Leo Harvey Diegel
Nickname Eagle
Born (1899-04-20)April 20, 1899
Gratiot Township,
Wayne County, Michigan
Died May 5, 1951(1951-05-05) (aged 52)
North Hollywood, California
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight 164 lb (74 kg; 11.7 st)
Nationality  United States
Spouse Violet Bird Diegel[1]
(m.1934–1951, his death)[2]
Turned professional 1916
Former tour(s) PGA Tour
Professional wins 37
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 30
Other 7
Best results in major championships
(wins: 2)
Masters Tournament T16: 1934
U.S. Open T2: 1920
The Open Championship T2: 1930
PGA Championship Won: 1928, 1929
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame 2003 (member page)
Gene Sarazen, Eddie Loos, and Diegel in 1921

Leo Harvey Diegel (April 20, 1899 – May 5, 1951) was an American professional golfer of the 1920s and early 1930s. He captured consecutive PGA Championships, played on the first four Ryder Cup teams, and is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.[3]

Early years

Born in Gratiot Township, Wayne County, Michigan,[4] Diegel began caddying at age ten[1] and won his first significant event at age 17, the 1916 Michigan Open.


Diegel was a runner-up in his first U.S. Open in 1920, one stroke behind champion Ted Ray. He won 30 PGA circuit events, and was a four-time winner of the Canadian Open (1924–25, 1928–29); a record for that event. In 1925, Diegel outperformed over 100 competitors to win the Florida Open (billed as the "Greatest Field Of Golfers Ever to Play in Florida") at the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club.

Diegel was selected for the first four Ryder Cup teams in 1927, 1929, 1931, and 1933. His greatest season was 1928, with wins at the Canadian Open and the match play PGA Championship, where he stopped the four-year winning streak of Walter Hagen. Diegel defeated him in the quarterfinal to avenge earlier defeats in the 1925 quarterfinal and the 1926 final.[5] Diegel achieved the rare feat of defending both titles successfully in 1929, this time defeating Hagen in the semifinals of the PGA. Diegel was a runner-up to Bobby Jones at the British Open in 1930.

Diegel was an excellent ball-striker, but struggled with his putting after joining the tour. After extensive experimentation, he eventually developed an unusual putting style where he pointed both elbows outwards; this was referred to as 'Diegeling'. He was a tour winner from 1920 to 1934, but dropped out of regular contention when he reached his mid-30s; a playful wrestling incident in Australia in late 1934 with friend Harry Cooper caused nerve damage to his right shoulder and effectively ended his tour career.[6]


Diagnosed with throat and lung cancer in 1947, Diegel died at home in North Hollywood, California in 1951 at age 52;[1][7] he had taken a position there as a club professional after scaling back his Tour play. He was buried in Michigan at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Detroit.

Diegel was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003.

Professional wins (37)

PGA Tour wins (30)

Major championships are shown in bold.

Note: The PGA Tour[8] and World Golf Hall of Fame[9] list Diegel with 30 wins. The PGA Tour book History of the PGA Tour lists only the 29 wins above.[10]

Other wins (7)

Note: This list is probably incomplete.

Major championships

Wins (2)

YearChampionshipWinning scoreRunner-up
1928 PGA Championship 6 & 5 United States Al Espinosa
1929 PGA Championship 6 & 4 United States Johnny Farrell

Note: The PGA Championship was match play until 1958

Results timeline

Tournament 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
U.S. Open T2 T26 7 T8 T25 8 T3 T11 T18 T8
The Open Championship DNP DNP DNP T25 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 3
PGA Championship R32 DNP DNP DNP R32 QF 2 DNP 1 1
Tournament 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
Masters Tournament NYF T16 T19 DNP DNP DNP DNP
U.S. Open T11 3 4 T17 T17 CUT DNP DNP DNP DNP
The Open Championship T2 DNP DNP T3 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
PGA Championship R16 R32 DNP R32 R32 DNQ DNQ R64 R32 R32

NYF = Tournament not yet founded
DNP = Did not play
DNQ = Did not qualify for match play portion
CUT = missed the half-way cut
R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in PGA Championship match play
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 2
U.S. Open 0 1 2 4 8 14 16 15
The Open Championship 0 1 2 3 3 4 4 4
PGA Championship 2 1 0 4 5 12 13 13
Totals 2 3 4 11 16 32 35 34

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Golfer Leo Diegel dies after lingering illness". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. May 9, 1951. p. 6-part 2.
  2. "Another prize for golf pro". Florence Times. Alabama. February 22, 1934. p. 6.
  3. Trenham, Peter C. "The Leaders and The Legends: 1930 to 1939" (PDF). PGA: Philadelphia Section. p. 2. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  4. "Michigan, Births, 1867–1902".
  5. "Local golfer wins from New Yorker". Evening Independent. St. Petersburg, Florida. Associated Press. September 27, 1926. p. 8.
  6. Rawles, Wallace N. (January 13, 1936). "Wrestling injury forces Leo Diegel to quit pro golf". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. INS. p. 9.
  7. "Leo Diegel dies of long illness". Miami Daily News. Associated Press. May 9, 1951. p. 13-A. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  8. Avery, Brett (February 11, 2007). "Open collapse now history as 30th Tour trophy is on mantle". PGA Tour. Mickelson posted his 30th Tour triumph, joining Leo Diegel at 16th on the all-time list.
  9. "World Golf Hall of Fame profile". Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  10. Barkow, Al (1989). The History of the PGA Tour. Doubleday. p. 276. ISBN 0-385-26145-4.
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