Lee Trevino

Lee Trevino Biography.com

Golfer(1939–)
Popular professional golfer Lee Trevino was the first player to win the U.S., British and Canadian Open championships in a single year.

Synopsis

Golfer Lee Trevino was born on December 1, 1939, in Garland, Texas. Despite possessing an unorthodox swing, he won his first major title at the U.S. Open in 1968, and in 1971 he became the first player to win the U.S., British, and Canadian Open championships in a single year. Elected to the Golf Hall of Fame in 1981, Trevino went on to enjoy more success on the Senior PGA Tour.

Early Years

Lee Buck Trevino was born into a poor Mexican-American family on December 1, 1939, in Garland, Texas. He never knew his father, and was raised by his mother and grandfather in a small house with no electricity or indoor plumbing.

Trevino began picking cotton at age 5 to contribute to the family finances, and by age 8 he was caddying at the nearby Glen Lakes Country Club. Realizing that there was money to be made in golf, he quit school in the eighth grade to work at a driving range, where he hit hundreds of balls per day.

After four years in the Marine Corps, Trevino turned professional in 1960. He spent his early pro years as an assistant at country clubs, where he garnished his paychecks by hustling other players who were deceived by his self-taught, unorthodox swing.

PGA Tour Stardom

After finishing in fifth place as a qualifier at the 1967 U.S. Open, Trevino spent the rest of the year on the PGA Tour and was named its top rookie. In 1968, he again surged up the leaderboard at the U.S. Open, this time pulling away for a record-tying score of 275 and his first major championship.

Known for his rapid-fire wit, Trevino was dubbed "Merry Mex" and "Super Mex" by his fans. He infused some color into a notoriously buttoned-up sport, such as when he threw a rubber snake at Jack Nicklaus before their 18-hole playoff at the 1971 U.S. Open. However, there was plenty of substance to his game; Trevino won that playoff, and within weeks he had also claimed the Canadian Open and the British Open to become the first golfer to win all three tournaments in the same year.

Trevino added a second British Open title in 1972, and in 1974 he won his first PGA Championship. Struck by lightning during the 1975 Western Open, he seemingly emerged unscathed and continued playing, although he eventually underwent surgery for back pain. Nevertheless, he continued his streak of at least one PGA Tour victory per year, which began with his 1968 U.S. Open win, until 1981. That year, he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Merry Mex scored one last triumph at the 1984 PGA Championship, where he became the first golfer to break 70 in all four rounds at the tournament. It was his sixth major championship, and the final one of his 29 PGA titles. His career ledger also included an impressive 17-7-6 record in Ryder Cup play, as well as five Vardon Trophies for the lowest average score over the course of a season.

Trevino enjoyed more success after joining the Senior PGA Tour (now the Champions Tour) in 1989, twice claiming the Senior PGA Championship among his 29 wins on the circuit.

Personal

Trevino married his third wife, Claudia, in 1983. He has two children with her, and fathered four children from his previous two marriages.

The golfing great has contributed to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and served on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Sports Committee. For his philanthropic efforts, he was named recipient of the PGA Distinguished Service Award in 2013.

Trevino worked as an analyst for NBC during the 1980s, but he has largely steered clear of the broadcast booth in favor of playing more golf and spending time with his family. In 2015, he was named golf pro emeritus at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia.

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