History

1929: Some well-placed stymies

Champion: Leo Diegel, Tijuana, Mexico
Site: Hillcrest Country Club, Los Angeles, Calif.
Date: Dec. 2-7
Purse: $5,000
Par: 36-35 - 71

Leo Diegel "stymied" Johnny Farrell during a Championship match where neither player was outstanding. Diegel had what many golf historians call the "weirdest putting stroke" known to major championship golf. He crouched low with his chin nearly touching the top of the shaft. His elbows jutted out like bony wings as he took a stroke. It was style that brought chuckles, but it also brought Diegel his share of victories.

In his finals match, Diegel grabbed a four-hole advantage, then Farrell won the next three. Diegel started the afternoon 18-hole round by winning the 19th to square the match. On a stretch of eight holes, Diegel was able to frustrate Farrell with a series of stymies. Under the Rules of Golf in effect at the time, the term applies when a player's ball blocks the line of another player's ball to the hole. The player must attempt to play past, around or over the blocking ball.

On the 27th hole, Diegel missed a short putt, and his ball stopped in a position that partially covered the cup and blocked Farrell's five-foot putt. Farrell tried to negotiate the putt around Diegel's ball, but knocked Diegel's ball into the cup to lose the hole. The same scenario took place on the following hole, and Farrell found himself three down. To compound his problems, Farrell missed a three-foot putt that would have won the 29th hole. Diegel parred the rest of the way, winning 6 and 4. The stymie continued to be an obstacle for tournament players until it was abolished in 1951.

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