Remembering Golfer Abe Espinosa, PGA Tour Winner

Golfer Abe Espinosa poses circa 1922

Abe Espinosa was a professional golfer in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. Although not as famous as his little brother Al Espinosa, Abe was also a winner on the PGA Tour. They were one of the earliest brother combos to both post victories on tour.

Full name: Abelard George Espinosa

Date of birth: February 9, 1889

Place of birth: Monterey, California

Date and place of death: February 13, 1980, in San Luis Obispo, California

His Biggest Wins

Espinosa had three wins on the PGA Tour:
  • 1928 Western Open
  • 1928 Chicago Open Championship
  • 1931 Texas Open
He also won the 1931 Illinois PGA Championship, a state championship but not a tour event.

In the Majors

Espinosa played in 20 majors, first at the 1919 U.S. Open and last at the 1941 U.S. Open. His best showing in a stroke-play major, and his only Top 10 in a stroke-play major, was tied for seventh in the 1924 U.S. Open. Espinosa was in the field at the inaugural 1934 Masters and finished 38th.

He had several good showings in the match-play PGA Championship, including two runs into the quarterfinals. In the 1926 PGA Championship, Espinosa knocked off Mike Brady on the 37th hole in the second round, but fell to Leo Diegel in the quarters. In the 1931 PGA Championship, Espinosa had another good win in the second round, over Wild Bill Mehlhorn, but fell to Billy Burke in the quarters. Espinosa also reached the Round of 16 in 1932.

More About Abe Espinosa

Abe Espinosa and his brother Al Espinosa were the third set of brothers in PGA Tour history to post wins on the PGA Tour. The Smiths (Willie, Alex and Macdonald) were the first, followed by the Kerrigans (Tom and George), then the Espinosas.

Al was Abe's little brother, but was the more accomplished tournament player. Al won nine PGA Tour titles, and made it into a playoff at the 1929 U.S. Open before losing to Bobby Jones.

Abe had five brothers and one sister, and all five of the Espinosa boys grew up to become golf professionals. Al's first tour win was the 1924 Missouri Open, which is the same year that Abe and Al moved to Chicago.

Abe never caught up to his little brother in wins, with just three on tour. But Abe's victory in the 1928 Western Open was the biggest either of them had. The Western Open, at that time, was considered on par with the PGA Championship, just a smidge below the U.S. Open importance.

That win for Abe was also the only tournament where a real head-to-head battle between the brothers took place on the tour. Abe held the 36-hole lead (earned with a course-record 69 in Round 2) by one stroke over Al. Al was still in second following the third round, but Abe stretched his lead to four. In the final round, both shot 76. That was good enough for Abe to win, but Al fell back to third, with Johnny Farrell the runner-up.

The very next week Abe won again. He sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the last hole of the Chicago Open to beat runner-up Frank Walsh by one stroke.

Abe's third and final PGA Tour win was another big one at the time, the 1931 Texas Open. But he also won the first-ever Illinois PGA Championship title that year.

Abe Espinosa had many other near-misses on tour, and Macdonald Smith was something of a nemesis to him. Smith beat Abe in a playoff at the 1924 Northern California Open; was first to Abe's second in the 1925 California Open; and Espinosa was runner-up to Smith again in the 1926 Dallas Open. Espinosa also had second-place finishes in the 1924 Southern California Open; by playoff in the 1924 Northern California Open; and in the 1932 Mid-South Open and 1934 Miami Biltmore Open.

Espinosa began his career as a club pro in California. After moving to Chicago, he became pro at Columbian Golf Club. From 1930-32, Espinosa was head pro at Medinah Country Club in Chicago, a key period in that famous club's history. In 1930, the first Medinah Open was played; and 1932 is the year the redesign of the club's famous No. 3 Course was completed.

Among the other clubs where Abe worked was Acacia Country Club in Chicago and Shreveport Country Club in Louisiana. While at Shreveport CC, future golf Hall of Famer Tommy Bolt was part of Espinosa's caddie corps.

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