Ernie Gonzalez

Ernie Gonzalez (February 19, 1961 – May 15, 2020) was an American professional golfer who played on the PGA Tour in the 1980s. He won the only title of his career in 1986. By doing so, he became only the third left-handed golfer to win a Tour event.

Ernie Gonzalez
Personal information
Born(1961-02-19)February 19, 1961
San Diego, California
DiedMay 15, 2020(2020-05-15) (aged 59)
Chicago, Illinois
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight210 lb (95 kg; 15 st)
Nationality United States
ResidenceLas Vegas, Nevada
CollegeUnited States International University
Turned professional1983
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Professional wins1
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour1
Best results in major championships
Masters TournamentCUT: 1987
PGA ChampionshipCUT: 1987
U.S. OpenCUT: 1987
The Open ChampionshipDNP

Early lifeEdit

Gonzalez was born in Chula Vista (a suburb of San Diego) on February 19, 1961.[1] His father was of Mexican descent and his mother was Puerto Rican.[2] He attended the United States International University, where he played on the golf team. He turned professional in 1983.[1]


Gonzalez played full-time on the PGA Tour from 1985 to 1989.[3] He shot a 14-under-par 128 to edge Joey Sindelar by one stroke to win the rain-shortened 36-hole Pensacola Open in 1986 for his only Tour victory.[4] The win by Gonzalez was the first by a left-handed golfer on the PGA Tour since Bob Charles at the 1974 Greater Greensboro Open.[5] He also became only the third left-hander ever to win an event on Tour,[6] after Charles and Sam Adams.[1]

Gonzalez was friends with Phil Mickelson, a fellow left-hander and San Diegan. In 1988, Gonzalez's penultimate season on the Tour, he helped organize a practice round for Mickelson with Seve Ballesteros. This occurred during Mickelson's first PGA Tour event at the Shearson Lehman Hutton Andy Williams Open, which he entered as an amateur.[7][8]

Later years and deathEdit

After losing his Tour card, Gonzalez worked as a golf instructor[3] and a warehouseman at Wirtz Beverage Nevada.[9] He has also played in a limited number of Nationwide Tour events, and in select PGA Tour events using exemptions. He lived with his family in Las Vegas,[3] where he was employed at a beverage distributorship.[1] The only event on the PGA Tour Champions that he participated in after turning 50 was the 2011 Senior Open Championship. However, he did not make the cut.[1][10]

Gonzalez was married to Judy.[11] Their son, David, was born in 1992,[11] and Gonzalez later became teetotal to set a good example for him.[9] His nephew was Brian Smock, who also played on the PGA Tour.[12][13] Gonzalez was a Christian and attended Shadow Hills Baptist Church.[9]

Gonzalez died on May 15, 2020, at a hospital in Chicago. He was 59, and had been suffering from complications of Alzheimer's disease.[1][10]

Professional wins (1)Edit

PGA Tour wins (1)Edit

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 Oct 12, 1986 Pensacola Open −14 (65-63=128) 1 stroke   Joey Sindelar

Results in major championshipsEdit

Tournament 1987
Masters Tournament CUT
U.S. Open CUT
PGA Championship CUT

CUT = missed the half-way cut
Note: Gonzalez never played in The Open Championship.

Results in The Players ChampionshipEdit

Tournament 1987
The Players Championship CUT

CUT = missed the half-way cut


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Ernie Gonzalez passes away at the age of 59". PGA Tour. May 15, 2020. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  2. ^ "Playing golf backward". The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. March 26, 1987. p. E1. His dad was Mexican, born in Arizona, his mother Puerto Rican.
  3. ^ a b c Iole, Kevin (November 7, 2001). "Local Golf Note: Gonzalez eyes return to Tour". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on September 6, 2003. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
  4. ^ "Today in Golf History: October 12". Golfonline. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
  5. ^ Linette, Jim (October 14, 1986). "Exemptions excite Lefty in Pensacola". Florida Today. Cocoa, Florida. p. 19 – via
  6. ^ "PGA Tour winner Gonzalez dead at age 59". Golf Channel. May 15, 2020. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  7. ^ Hoggard, Rex (February 20, 2019). "Mickelson's 600th start a milestone in a career overrun with milestones". Golf Channel. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  8. ^ Bissell, Kathlene (February 21, 2019). "Phil Mickelson: Seve, Tiger, and what drives him today". Pro Golf Now. FanSided. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Graney, Ed (October 19, 2009). "Gonzalez finds peace on course through faith". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on May 16, 2020. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Walker, Ben (May 16, 2020). "Ernie Gonzalez, winner of 1986 Pensacola Open, dies at 59". Associated Press. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c "Ernie Gonzalez – Profile". PGA Tour. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  12. ^ "Brian Smock". Golf Channel. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  13. ^ Goebels, Greer (November 8, 2012). "Meet Brian Smock, Instructor and Nationwide Tour Playing Professional, Now Instructing at Coronado Golf Course". The Coronado Times. Retrieved May 16, 2020.

External linksEdit