Every time Lee Trevino saw me waiting to hit off for a match with him, he would roll his trousers up to his knees before walking on to the first tee – imitating my pluss-twos. He is completely irrepressible and his incessant chatter could well put many players off, although it never bothered me; I would blank myself out before hitting a shot.
Lee has an extraordinary way of playing the game but he hits the ball very well and STRAIGHT. He stands with the ball 6 inches ahead of his left foot, lifts the club up very steeply and comes down with a big inward loop, before lunging forwards to reach the ball.
With this method he is incapable of a high finish so the ball always flies low. The only person I can remember who swung something like that was the long-hitting Irish amateur, Jimmy Bruen. His backswing was the same but he had a higher finish.
I never liked Lee’s putting stroke – on the greens he looked to me like an amateur – but he had wonderful touch. The putter face was not taken back straight back and straight through, so I never expected him to hole anything, but it seemed to go in all the time.
Hit by lightning
On dry ground he could hit it a long way because he was a powerful man. I say ‘was’ because his spine was badly damaged in when he was struck by lightning in 1975. Although his best period was 1968-1972, when he won the US Open twice (1968, 1971) and the Open twice (1971,1972), he also won the USPGA Championship twice, in 1974 and again ten years later with his weakened spine.
I liked playing with Lee because he was never moody and got on with the game, like I do. There was none of this faffing about consulting yardage charts or crouching about on the greens. He would walk up to the ball on the fairway, sum up the shot quickly and then belt it on to the green – invariably close to the pin.
He would pull my leg but I would give as good as I got, making fun of the fact that he couldn’t hit the ball higher than one of our London buses.
“What’s the good of doing that?” he would reply. “I hit it under the wind.”
I always gave my shots a lot of air because I was brought up on wet winter fairways which were full of worm casts. But Lee’s childhood was spent in poverty on the dry lands of Texas.