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November 4, 1998

Lee Trevino


LEE TREVINO: I played -- I like that golf -- I never -- ever since I started going to Wilshire, I always liked the course. But I was never well. I was always either sick or something physically was wrong with me. But I thought I could play that course pretty well. That's my type of golf: Short little tight type of course to where you hit little bump and runs and what have you. This golf course is probably the toughest one we play all year. There's no question about it. I was telling a couple of players earlier in the locker room, I said: Forget your wedges, boys. If you use your wedges or a 9-iron this week, it's going to be for the third and fourth shot. It's not going to be for the second shot. This is a big golf course for us. It's probably the best golf course we play all year, no question. I wish we had a lot of them that we played like this. It's difficult, you've got to use your whole bag, and that's why the scores are not real low here, it's tough. The weather-- the golf gods save this particular week for us every year, don't they? Last week was nice. Next week's going to be good. I got to the point to where I just put all my winter clothes in a suitcase and I put it in the attic and I put "Myrtle Beach" on the suitcase and I don't use the clothes any other time. When I get ready to come to Myrtle Beach, I take the suitcase out of there, my wife says -- I'm going down to South Carolina. It's November, honey, I'm going down there to play I'm going down there to play. Same clothes, haven't even been clean. I finished fourth last year. I played good last year. I didn't want to wash them. Yeah, I finished fourth last year. I played good last year, very good.

Q. Well, next year you're changing golf courses, though.

LEE TREVINO: I kind of hate to see that, really. I haven't seen that other course. I guess it's a TPC course. I just don't see how it could get any better than this one. This is really a challenge to play, tough.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: You were telling me last week you made a little grip change.

LEE TREVINO: As I've gotten older, I've been able to have the leg drive, as you well know. If you look at the old pictures, people used to make the comment that I held on through the hitting area probably longer than anyone. It wasn't upper body that did that, it was actually the flex of the knees. In other words, it went north, south. I've got a bad left knee. I'm actually turning more this way, where I used to kind of lean to the left and drive the knees and then come up. And I got away with a very strong grip. Everybody used to say my right hand was underneath. Simply because of the knee drive, I could actually lean the angle. The past couple of three years I've been very erratic with the ball flight. I've been high and more or less going right to left too much, hooking the ball a lot too much. I just came to the conclusion at 59, I'm never going to get that knee action back. I've got to compensate somewhere to try and hold the angle or holding the club face square to the target longer. And I've been doing it for three weeks. And last week was the first week that if felt halfway decent. I'm actually gripping the left hand in the same spot, but instead of the right being here, I'm starting with the right here. Also, what made me decide this is Golf Digest -- Golf World I think had a picture of Ben Hogan on the cover. I think right after he passed away. And inside it had his grip. And actually the palm of the thumb here was actually touching the first finger of the left hand at the grip, and, you know, Hogan was -- hooked the ball extremely bad back in the middle 40s and late 30s. And he worked on the right hand. And I just said, you know, I can't use the lower body the way I'm using it. I'm going to have to make compensation with the hand. And it's just starting to feel comfortable. And it feels weird. But I look up and the damn ball is going at the target. So as long as that happens, I'm okay.

Q. When you were young, didn't you hook the ball, too?

LEE TREVINO: I was in the Marine Corps. I guess I started playing golf religiously when I was 19. I was in my third year of the Marine Corps. I went in when I was 17. But, yeah, I swung very conventional. I was up high and -- there was no cut in the wrist. And it was here and -- I went down into it. I stayed behind the ball and I turned it, and I hit the widest damn hook you've ever seen in your life. But then, unfortunately, I was starting, when I came -- when I got out of the Marine Corps I started working in the construction crew at the Jewish Club in Dallas called the Columbia Club called Madison. We were doing nine holes on it. And I didn't have any intentions of being a professional golfer or anything. I was just working on the crew drinking beer, raising hell. And some guy watched me hit balls and he says, "You know, I like the way you hit that golf ball." He says I think you've got the potential to be a touring pro some day. I said, "Man, you're crazy." And probably, as a matter of fact, best thing I ever did was quit that job and went to work for this gentleman. His name was Harvey Greenwood. He had a driving range at a par 3 course in Dallas, and he took me under his wing. He told me, he says you're never going to get anywhere with the hook. He says hold it lower, hold the angle a little longer. And the only way I could do it was dragging it on my knees. Plus, I played a golf course which was Tennison Park, which was extremely tight and no bunkers on the golf course. And you had the bump and run. That's why I went over to Scotland for the first time. People thought that I was a very dark -- very, very dark Scotsman. And I said I could never see anybody hit the ball this low that came from America or South America that was Latin who could do this, who was Latin or Hispanic. And this was this old guy taught me. But he didn't tell me that I was going to get real old that the damn legs weren't going to work anymore, so I've had to change it.

Q. Is that winning what wore out your left knee?

LEE TREVINO: I think. So when I got hit by lightening in '75, it kind of wore out a few things. I've had the fusion in the neck with the plate and I've had two lower back operations and I've had a rupture of the lateral ligament of the left thumb, so little by little. But I'm getting to the age I want to be, 80. So I'm going to be 59 in December.

Q. How much longer are you going to play golf, competitively?

LEE TREVINO: God, that's hard to say. Everything has to do with the Super Seniors. If the Super Seniors continues, I would probably participate in Super Seniors event or possibly all of them. If it doesn't continue, I will probably quit at the age of 60.

Q. So next year could be your last year?

LEE TREVINO: Next year could be my last year if the Super Seniors does not -- if there's talk -- there's talk about if the contract runs out that we have a new sponsor -- there was some talk about starting a new Super Senior division with 15 tournaments paying 15 players, I don't know, doing whatever they were going to do. I talked to the commissioner about it. I don't know the specifics. I don't want to get into them. But I would be willing to play some there. But if not, I'll quit at the age of 60. I'll play the year 2000, the British Open, and that will be it for me, yeah.

Q. So you and Jack will be at St. Andrews.

LEE TREVINO: Jack will be at St. Andrews. Gary Player will be there. Bob Charles is going to be at St. Andrews. And I would certainly hope they would give Arnold Palmer an invitation. That would just be a great venue and take just one last pick picture of the champions on the first tee, and that would be it for us. But Arnold, by being 68, he's not eligible anymore after 65. You lose your exemption at the British Open after 65. But they could make a special invite for him. That would be awfully nice. But Arnold's intention, that's -- when he played the British Open the last time, he knew he was going to turn 65 before the British Open came back. But, yeah, that would be great. That would be a great venue, yeah.

Q. Last week and with Joe Inman, I know you wanted to win, but to lose it to somebody --

LEE TREVINO: Well, yeah. And I go back a long, long way. But I had -- I don't know if Joe talked to you or not, but I had a long talk with him in the fitness trailer Sunday morning. Has he been in? Has Joe been in?

PHIL STAMBAUGH: I think he got in last night.

LEE TREVINO: That you talked to him?


LEE TREVINO: I'll let him tell you the story. But I had a long talk with him about winning and not making things happen, let things happen on their own. I watched Joe. Joe tended to get involved in what everybody else is doing. And you have no control over that. You don't have any control over that. I said: You only have control over your own game. And I said: Don't worry about what somebody else is doing. Don't look at the board. The only time you look at the board is if you're beating everybody in your group. If you're not beating everybody in your group, what the hell are you looking at the board for? Don't protect anything. Don't protect third. Don't protect anything. You play, you play, and you play and you play straight up. Do the best you can. And when you walk off of there, you say well, it could have been better, but I missed a couple of putts over here, but, again, I made a couple over here. Everybody was talking about -- I birdied 12, I birdied 12 to tie. I birdied 13 to take the lead. And I remember the putt that I hit on the 13th hole. It was about a 15-footer downhill, and it was a two-way breaker. And it broke left. And I hit it easy and the ball hung on the lip and it shook and it fell in. Then I go to the par 5, the next hole, and I put it four feet in there and it did a 360. The ball went in the hole and it came back at me and everything is going crazy about it. And I said wait a minute, wait a minute, that one could have got in and the one on the last hole could have stayed out and it would have been the same. So why worry about it, it's history. It's water that's never coming back. In other words, you have to look at it that way. But that's what I talked to Joe about. I had a long talk with him in there about just do your thing, man, don't worry about anybody else. You're always worried about who you can beat and I said: Gil can be beat but you guys -- he's playing with Gil Morgan. I said, Joe's playing well. You've got to be playing good if you're in the last group with Gil Morgan. They didn't put you there. You qualified to get there. You've got to be playing as well as he is. So don't worry about it. Just play your own ball. I just hugged him in there and he still can't talk. That's a big emotional thing for him. It was a big tournament, getting in here, you know, getting in this golf tournament. I feel sorry for Bob Dickson. What is this the third year in a row he's been knocked out?


Q. Looking back on it, are there victories you recognize as meaningful to you?

LEE TREVINO: I'm in awe of every victory. I've always been sincere when I say that. I'm not making this up. If you know where I came from and for me to do what I've done, everything is important to me. Every victory is important, just getting to play is important. I mean, everybody I grew up with is either dead or in jail, come on. Here I am you know, I'm known all over the world for what I do. I'm a very lucky person. And that's why win, lose or draw it doesn't bother me. When I come in and take those spikes off, it's like I've forgot everything that's happened. No big deal. Still lucky to be doing what you're doing.

Q. Of all of the things that's changed in golf since, say, 68, go back 30 years, what do you think is the most significant?

LEE TREVINO: Money, what they are playing for. We never dream that had they would be playing for this kind of money. Never dreamed it. Never, never dreamed it.

Q. What do you think of the amounts of money that the PGA Tour is going to playing for starting with the world events?

LEE TREVINO: Well, I don't know what the whole criteria is. I've got my ideals about that $5 million tournament, which I have no -- there's no jealousy here. That's great I think it's fabulous, playing for $5 million with the top 50 world ranking players. My whole thing is I don't know what the rules, the bilaws are. I would have to -- before I could intelligently answer your question -- I think it's great, you understand. If -- if they meet the right criteria. Is it official money, No. 1. Don't answer me. I'm just asking. No. 1, is it official. What happens to the other five tournaments that are against this particular tournament? I'd have a problem with that, yeah. I'd have a problem with it being official.

Q. What do you think about this -- the new -- what amounts to the World Series of Golf which would be for players who make the Ryder Cup, President's Cup team?

LEE TREVINO: Well 99 percent of those guys are going to make it anyway. But again, is it official money? Because if it's official money, a guy that's playing on the President's Cup, listen to me -- if a guy is playing on the President's Cup, never played a tournament in this country, okay, and a guy playing on the Ryder Cup has never played a tournament in this country finishes second, he can win enough money to get a card for a year on this Tour. Do you understand where I'm coming from?

Q. Yeah, I understand.

LEE TREVINO: Do you understand what I'm saying? If it's official money, you're giving a shot at somebody because he made the President's Cup or he made the Ryder Cup that has never qualified to play in this country on this Tour. But by getting invited to a $5 million tournament, technically speaking, if it's official money, he could finish second in that tournament and have enough money to make the 125 and I don't think that's right. But again, no one has asked me, but I don't know the whole rules. That might be the way it is. I don't know. I don't know the bylaws here and I don't want to get in the position -- you asked me my opinion. But I think there's nothing wrong with having a $5 million tournament and inviting the top 50. Everyone has got a chance to make the top 50 worldwide ranking. They don't discriminate. You go out there and you play your heart out, and if you play make the top 50 in the world, you're one of the guys. But I have a problem with how it's going to go and is it official or nonofficial. Yeah, I have a problem with that. I sure do and I'm sure there's a lot of cats that's playing this tour that have a problem with that.

Q. So you don't have a problem with the amount of money?

LEE TREVINO: Hell no. I think it makes it great. And I think that -- I have no problem with that at all, none at all.

Q. Do you think the world economy is going to be able to sustain the amounts of money that we're seeing in not just golf but other sports? Or have you thought about it at all?

LEE TREVINO: Basketball has thought about it. (Laughter.) Basketball has thought about it, and I'll tell you one thing, those gentleman that play basketball, they are thinking about if right now, too. But I don't know when it's going to stop. I'm sure that -- I'm sure that the stock market and I'm sure that our sponsors will tell us when it's time to slow down and do whatever. We have a commissioner. His job is to get us the best deal he can. And he's done the best job in my opinion -- with the television -- and that's why they are playing for all this money. And if it comes to a point where the sponsors don't think they can subsidize things, it won't be as big. I don't have any problem with it. I'm not smart enough to even answer you intelligently about that stuff. I don't know anything about the economics.

Q. I'm just mystified about how it keeps growing and growing. Plus my concern is when bad times come how are you going to keep these events --

LEE TREVINO: If you look at the budget, we're playing for -- what's the regular tour playing for a $150 billion? What are they paying the whole -- what would the whole NFL be getting paid?

Q. A lot more than that.

LEE TREVINO: So we are underpaid.

Q. What about baseball, too?

LEE TREVINO: We are underpaid. Listen we've got to pay our own transportation and clean our own uniforms.

Q. I'm not saying that. I come from a poor background and it's hard for me to visualize where all this money is going to come from.

LEE TREVINO: That was my original answer if you remember it. Play the tape back. That's the one thing that's mystifying, if anything, is what we're playing for today. But if you -- if you look at it, and you prorate it like other sporting events, we're actually not playing for nearly -- nearly as much. Plus we're independent contractors, too. And we have to -- we spend -- I don't know, I probably spend, oh, god, what am I spending -- I can't tell you but it's big, what I'm spending to travel around the country.

Q. The plane--

LEE TREVINO: Well, my wife has a plane. She let's me borrow it. I don't have it here. Everybody says: You've got an airplane. I say: No, my wife has one. She let's me come home Sunday night on it. She said, I'll see you Friday. I said: Okay, how are you getting there? American. And she brings the plane and brings me up on Friday.

Q. Taking Trevino Airlines?

LEE TREVINO: She takes hers and I fly commercial. I don't have my problem with that. I'm in the front now. I used to be in back. (Laughter.). That's it. I don't drink any more so I might as well -- I used to pay twice as much to get two scotches. That was dumb. Really dumb. I remember going from L.A. one time to Phoenix. You can go to the back for 38 or a $144 in the front. The guy says: Are you sure I want to go up there for two drinks? I said no, you're right. Give me the $38.

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