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Lee Trevino's funniest stories


Tales of The Open

Lee Trevino at Turnberry in 1977

Lee Trevino, who turned 81 on Tuesday, is renowned as one of the most charismatic and popular golfers to have ever played the sport.

A natural storyteller, Trevino has told many amusing anecdotes about his time on and off the golf course.

We take a look at some of the best stories to have cropped up in our latest Tales of The Open documentary featuring the two-time Champion Golfer.

Unbeaten with a bottle!

In his Tales of The Open episode, Trevino discusses a remarkable record he possessed at his local par-3 course, prior to turning professional.

Trevino’s burgeoning talents meant he was struggling to find willing opponents, prompting him to take drastic measures in an attempt to convince people to take him on.

“When you get to the point where you’re beating everyone, no one wants to play with you,” he explained.

“I had a par-3 course here in Dallas and the longest hole was 120 yards and the shortest hole was 50 yards. And I came up with the idea of playing with a (Dr Pepper) bottle. So it was a 32-ounce bottle, smooth, and the reason it was Dr Pepper is because it was a smooth bottle, Coca-Cola bottles are hourglass-shaped.

“So I took adhesive tape and I taped the neck and then I took a left-handed glove and I turned it inside out so I could put it on my right hand and then I could hold it. Then I would throw the ball up like you’re hitting a baseball with a bat, and I would throw it up and I would hit it.

“I could hit it high, I could hit it low. Now sometimes they would break, but not all the time. And I could hit it 100 yards, I could roll this ball 100 yards. Then I would turn it longways with the bottom of it and I would putt croquet-style, between my legs.

“How they handicapped me with the bottle is that I would play anyone, they could use their whole set, whatever they wanted. All I did was take the ties, in other words I got half a stroke a hole, so if I tied you on the hole I would win it.

“And I’m proud to say that I’m sitting here telling you that I played with this bottle for probably three years and never lost a match!”

Lee Trevino raises a laugh at The Open in 1969

An unusual fitness regime

For the vast majority of his career, Trevino’s only preparation for tournaments came when he arrived at a venue.

“I’d just go to the tournament,” he said. “I’d play a tournament, then I’d play the next one, I’d play the next one, I’d take a week off and then I’d come back. I got ready in the practice area.”

However, he made an exception for The 101st Open at Muirfield in 1972, such was his determination to retain the Claret Jug he had claimed the previous year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Trevino’s preparations were not exactly orthodox.

In addition to playing in the winds of El Paso wearing goggles, to prevent sand blowing into his eyes, he called on the daughter of a local golf professional to follow him round the course in a golf cart so he could run between shots.

“I would run 18 holes,” said Trevino. “I’d hit the driver, I’d take off running, and she had a cart and she’d follow me. I’d hit the second shot, and I’d run. And I did this for 18 holes every day, to get in shape.

“Then in the afternoon I would play golf and I would improvise. I would never hit the club that was called for. If it was a 7-iron shot, I’d take a 5-iron, choke it down and hit it low. If it was a 5-iron shot, I’d choke it down and hit a 3, and this is what I worked on the whole time.”

“I went to Muirfield and unfortunately it was 95 degrees every day and the wind didn’t blow!”

Nevertheless, Trevino’s work seemingly had the desired effect as he successfully defended his title.

Lee Trevino celebrates winning The Open at Muirfield in 1972

A not so warm welcome

Victory at Muirfield may have led to Trevino earning rightful acclaim, but it is fair to say he did not receive the reception he had anticipated when he arrived in Scotland ahead of the Championship.

“We landed at the wrong airport,” he said. “We were supposed to have gone in to Glasgow or Edinburgh and we got off at Prestwick.

“So here we are, I’m the defending Champion, I had the Claret Jug and everything. I’m walking off the airplane, I’m waiting for the media and all my fans and everybody to say: ‘The man is back, the man is back!’

“(There was) not a soul. Not a person. Nowhere in the airport!”