On this date in 1968- Sunday June 16, 1968 Lee Trevino won the U.S. Open in golf. It was Trevino’s first ever victory. Golf is thought of as a rich man’s sport but Lee Trevino’s story is a real rags to riches one. Trevino was born in Dallas, Texas of Mexican ancestry. He never knew his father who left the family when he was very young. He was brought up by his mother and grandfather. At 5 he was working in the cotton fields. An uncle gave him a few golf balls and an old club and he was on his way. Lee would sneak into a nearby country club and play when he could. At 14 he left school to work as a caddie and a shoe shiner. After work he would practice his golf. In 1956 at the age of 17 he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. For four years he was a machine gunner in the marines and also got to play golf- often playing with Marine Corp officers.
After Lee got out of the Marines he became a golf club pro. Then in 1967 he qualified for the U.S. Open. Going into the 1968 U.S. Open at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York-Lee Trevino had never won a PGA tournament. He was 28 years old. He was the story of the weekend- becoming the first player to win the U.S. Open with four under par rounds- shooting 69-68-69-69=275 in winning the tournament by 4 strokes over the great Jack Nicklaus who finished second. His winnings $30,000. I looked up how much was payed out last year- the winner Brooks Koepka took home $2.16 million- indeed the times have changed in fifty years.
Lee Trevino was now off and running- he would be one of the greatest golfers in the world for the next 15 years or so- he would win 29 PGA touraments- and would win six majors- winning the U. S. Open, British Open and the P.G.A twice each. He hated The Masters- the course just didn’t fit his style- his best finish at Augusta was a tie for 10th. Some years he just skipped The Masters. In those six major title wins- Jack Nicklaus finished second to him four times. Trevino was always fun to watch and was known for his sense of humor and his jokes.