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June 30, 2015

Lee Trevino


THE MODERATOR: Honor to have Lee Trevino. As many of you know, he is now Greenbrier's third pro emeritus, following in the footsteps of Sam Snead and Tom Watson. That's some high cotton right there.

LEE TREVINO: You're right about following, because there is no way you could fill those shoes, especially Mr. Snead's. As a matter of fact, I talked to Jack, his boy, about three days ago, and I told him, I says, I can't fill Sam's shoes. I wear a 9D. He said, So did he. I said, I still can fill 'em. It's good to be here. It's a great experience. I'm no stranger here. I played the Ryder Cup here in '79, and I came every year that I was on the Senior Tour. I brought all my sponsors here and we always spent a couple days here. You can see why it's called America's resort. It's just absolutely fabulous here. I'm enjoying it. I wasn't looking for a job, and when Mr. Justice asked me to come here -- and my wife is the one that really talked me into it -- she says, This is what you do at home: You go to the course every day, you teach, you tell jokes, you play golf with guys. That what Mr. Justice wants you to do. Plus, it's 19 degrees cooler here. It's pretty nice here. It's pretty nice.

THE MODERATOR: 29 wins on the PGA Tour; 29 wins also on the Champions Tour. We'll step back here: 25 years ago from tomorrow, July the 1st, 1980, your first Champions Tour major, the U.S. Senior Open, just look back on your career, and what a career it's been.

LEE TREVINO: For a little young kid that came off a cotton farm, never get introduced to golf until he was almost 19 years old. I caddied a little bit. I actually took the game up at 19 when I was in the Marine Corps. I got out when I was 21 and didn't I pursue the game. I actually went to work on a construction crew building a golf course. I was practicing at this driving range, and this gentlemen was watching me hit balls and thought I had some potential. He hired me and I practiced. I never played an amateur tournament or a professional tournament in my entire life, and I entered my first tournament in Sharpstown 1965 in Houston, and I won it in a playoff beating Frank Wharton. The feather in the hat about winning that is all the Houston University boys were playing in that tournament, Homero Blancas, Toscano (ph) Marty Fleckman. They had some guns at Houston at the time. Coach Williams looked at me and said, Who are you and where did you come from? I'm from Dallas and I learned to play on a driving range in a little small par-3 course. That was the reason my -- my big strong advantage on tour was I was an excellent driver of the ball. Not long, but I was straight. Then I was a very good wedge player. I try to tell my is son that's 22 years old today, you know, everybody always -- you know the old deal about everyone always says you drive for show and putt for dough? Don't believe that at all. Driving is the most important club in that bag. If you're not in the fairway you're not going to need that putter. When you need the putter, you're there way, way too late. I mean, I played against I guess the greatest player that's ever played the game, which was Jack Nicklaus. I was lucky enough to beat him some of the time. I beat him with the wedge and driver, not the putter. I couldn't reach the par-5s, and I was always wedging the ball up and making birdies. So that sums it up. I won 89 tournaments worldwide in my career. Really I didn't play that long on the tour if you really look at it statistically. I came on the scene in 1967, and I only came out there because I had finished fifth at Baltusrol, and they gave me some invitations after June 15th to play some more tournaments. I ended up played 13 at the time, because the PGA on the tour at the time, and if you made the cut, you were automatically in the next week. So I stayed there for 13 straight weeks and won rookie of the year. My prize money was 33,040. That's what I won that year. Next year I came out and won the US Open, which gave me a lifetime exemption, which is the greatest ticket you could ever have. I could play here if I wanted to. I'm still exempt. The problem is that I can't reach the par-3s now with these players. Mr. Justice wanted me to play with he and Shaq in the Pro-Am and I refused. He says, Ah, come on, you gotta play. I says, Listen, first of all, I can't reach the par-3s, and I'm not playing the back tees. He says, No, you can go up to the front. I said, no, I don't want to go up there, because I'm short fused. Some guy will say something to me about playing off the ladies tees and I'm going to have to have jump those ropes. We can avoid all that stuff, so I'm going to caddie for Jim Justice. I'm going to caddy. I'm going to find out what kind of tipper Shaq's like tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: That should be fun.

LEE TREVINO: Going to be a blast.


Q. Lee, you're going to be spending 70 days in the summer here on the resort site. How much teaching will you be doing number one? Number two, how do you get your point across as a teacher being who you are? I mean, I'm sure some people that you teach are a little star struck initially.
LEE TREVINO: Well, I don't know about that. We did one for the members last week. I had 12 players. I have three teachers down there. I have Billy Winters and Scott Hall. Billy Winters is the in top 100 Golf Magazine teachers. I love teaching. I love showing people. Because this golf game is not that complicated. People make it complicated. I'm a tweaker. I don't tear down a golf swing and I don't teach golf swings. Who would want to learn a golf swing from me? I look like a pretzel maker. But I get results. The thing you have to understand, if a person played as well as I played with the way I swung at it, he's got to know something. There is a reason why he does that. Furyk swung a lot like me. Got to know something when you do that. This game is not picturesque. All the players, they look alike now. They way they teach now I couldn't teach, because they're teaching about going over and inside. I don't do any of that stuff. But I don't think they're star struck. First thing I do is sit them down and I tell them, First of all, if the roof of your house was leaking, would you hire a guy to tear the house down to fix the leak, or would you hire a guy to fix the leak? I fix leaks. You understand? That's what I do. Butch Harmon does that. No two people swing alike, think alike. So you have to work around what they have, but you can teach 'em what your beliefs are. The game is very simple. It's a door. Open it and close it. Then you got to put your body with it and everything. Everybody wants to flip the ball and everything, and I teach the short game. I teach the short game to where the club head never passes the left hand. You hold on to it. Only time you ever flip hit a golf shot with a wedge is if you're hitting a flop shot. But I had some good results. People got a lot out of it. I can teach them out to get out of rough. People don't really know how to get out of the rough, as far as being around the green. Putting, I teach a lot of putting like Dave Stockton, lead with the handle. McIlroy putts like that. I don't teach this slapping at it, because it's very difficult. If you release the right hand when you hit a putt, it's difficult. Not for a pro. I mean, these guys play every day and they practice. I'm concerned with lady players, juniors, and just amateur players that can only play a couple times a week or whatever. That's what concerns me about the thing. But I teach a lot. As a matter of fact, when I leave here, Mr. Justice just called me and has a lady he wants me to give 30-minute lesson to at the back of the range. I'm ready. I'm always ready. She hasn't heard my jokes. I'll spend 30 minutes telling her stories, you know what I'm saying? I had a breakfast this morning, and I said, You know what I like about this gig? The guy says, What's that? I says, After being three days at my country club I tell all the jokes. I know I can't tell them again. Here I see people every day different, so I can use the same four jokes, and hell, they'll laugh for 70 days. I mean, it's easy. It's really easy. But I will say this: I have enjoyed this so much. I've been here a month already and it feels like 30 minutes. Next year I told Mr. Justice I was coming mid-June and I'm leaving late September. I have something I have to do in Dallas when I leave here about the 20th of August, I'm going back to 104 degree weather. That's just silly. He gives me a big four-bedroom house and everything, free food. I get whatever I want. So why 70 days? I might as well stay four month and just stay the summer. I got my puppies up here. Ive got a little French Bulldog and my Papillon. Papillon woke me up at 2:40 this morning. I had to walk her outside. I said, Be careful, because I like tacos. You'll be in a taco tomorrow if you're not careful. Anyway, I love those two dogs. I love them. My wife is here. My son just graduated three weeks ago from college. He came for a week; he's coming back after the tournament. Yeah, great place. Great place.

Q. I don't know if you're into predictions. All of us try to do it. Doesn't work out very well. Do you have anyone in mind who you think sets up well this week to win this event? What kind of advice would you give them if they asked?
LEE TREVINO: First of all, I'm about three generations removed from these young men. I don't know very many of them. They're very respectful. They've come up and introduced themselves, shake your hand and everything. Each and every one of them have a psychologist, a sportsologist, a trainer, managers, teachers. If they come and ask me, you know, I wouldn't get really that involved with their golf swing. I don't understand their swings. I can't teach those swings. I can teach them short game, a little bit of bunker play, possibly some putting and what have you. Maybe working the ball from left to right. Most of the players that play today do not work the ball left to right. The greatest player ever hit a fade, and that was Nicklaus. Everybody thinks he drew the ball, but Jack Nicklaus faded the ball. As I try to tell my son, I've never seen a fader starve to death. I've seen a lot of guys that hook the ball go hungry, but not a guy that fades it. It's a go-to shot. It's something under pressure. See, to fade a golf ball you have to use 100% movement of your body. You have to really work hard in other words to practice fades. You can hook a ball sitting in that chair. You can't fade it sitting in that chair because you got to have speed, in other words, to fade a golf ball. As far as advice on the Old White, it's in great condition. We closed it two weeks ago and filled in all the divots in the fairways because we wanted the fairways immaculate. I've already had feedback from the players that have played here before saying this is the best condition they've ever seen it in. We were blessed because we had some rain and we had a lot of sun shine. I will say this: of the 45 years that I had the pleasure of the playing both tours, I never knew what went into doing one of these tournaments. I'm going to tell you something, you got to take your hat off to these people. They have been working day and night. It takes so much work it's unbelievable. The one thing I found out -- and I've always thanked the volunteers. Every time I used to see a volunteer anywhere, I always thanked them for volunteering. If we had to pay the volunteers that we have here to make this thing run smoothly, a $1 a hour, we wouldn't be able to have this tournament. We wouldn't enough money to do it. We can't do it without the volunteers. People putting up the bleachers are getting paid. People that are ding all this stuff, they're getting paid. But the volunteers, they even have to spend like $65 of their own money to buy a shirt and everything just to volunteer. We owe a lot to them. I'll tell you, It's not easy. It's not easy to do this. But course is immaculate. The greens are beautiful. Looks like mother ne'er is going to shine you on us this week. Going to have a pretty good week. I don't see too much in the forecast as far as rain is concerned. As far as who is going to win it, you better hit it straight. That's all I can tell you. That grass is pretty tall in the roughs out there.

THE MODERATOR: Speaking of the young kids, we had Patrick Reed in. I think he introduced himself to you. Talk a little bit about his game and how good he is going to be.

LEE TREVINO: I don't think there is any question. He's already proven how good he is going to be. He won three tournaments there right off the bat. People seems to criticize the part that he's a little on the mean side. But I like that. You got to be a little on the mean side. I thought Crenshaw would've been a hell of a player if he would've been a little meaner. There was a reason they called him Gentle Ben; nothing ever bothered him. Let me tell you something. If you think for one second that you shank one out there, hit it out of bounds, and you're in the gallery and you think this guy is supposed to smile about that, what's wrong with you? Me? I was hitting trees. I buried a club one time so deep in the ground that my caddie couldn't get that out. I'm gonna tell you that. Kicked that thing for a while to get it out of there. But I like him. The only thing is, Patrick, I was working with him trying to learn to fade the ball, and I don't like players that hit it one way. They'll play some good golf; consist golf is very difficult to do it one way. You got to be able to work the ball both ways. There are going to be days you get to the driving range and your hip and shoulder hurts and the hook is not going to be working right. You've go to go to something else, a go-to shot. That's what Tiger did. When he was playing his best golf, he went to the stinger. You remember the old stinger he hit? I don't see him doing that anymore. There may be a reason. He might not be able to do that anymore because he's had the back problems and the leg problems when he broke his leg and stuff, so I don't know whether he can do that anymore or not. He hasn't been doing it. I mean, the last few tournaments I've watched him and he's spraying the ball with his driver. He used to hit the stinger when he did that. If he didn't trust that driver, man, he would take that 5-wood or 3-wood out and hit it 280 down the middle of the fairway, and he's not doing that. I don't know why he went away from it. I have no idea why. But Patrick, I like him. Ryder Cup was fantastic. He was really a killer in the Ryder Cup, yeah.

Q. Funny you mention the Ryder Cup, because I was just thinking about the shush.
LEE TREVINO: I was wearing my jacket today that says Ryder Cup on it, because I think that was the last time they won. I had my Ryder Cup jacket on today. I left it in the closet.

Q. I don't want to say Ryder Cup is uppity, but what did you think when Patrick shushed the crowd? I kind of liked it, but at the same time, what's your thoughts on it?
LEE TREVINO: Like I said, I remember playing Ryder Cup and when I'd win a match nobody would say anything and I would scream at them. I would say, What? What? What are you all doing? I would finally get a... (clapping hands.) Nothing wrong with the Ryder Cup. Let me tell you what the problem is with the Ryder Cup. It's real simple: Any time you take a Ryder Cup team to the Ryder Cup, you got to three guns. Out of those twelve, you got three guns. These are your big guns. Who are they? You pick your three guns. When these three guns play for the week, they have got to give you a +6. That have got to give you a +6. You understand? If you look at the last Ryder Cup they had, they gave you a-7. McIlroy, top 3, gave you a +6, or 6 or 7. That's 13. You can't win a Ryder Cup doing that. We used to play to win. Our top guys took care of business; bottom guys brought it home. Now the top guys can't get it done and they expect the bottom guys to do it. They can't get it done. They're winning, but they can't get enough points down here. If you look at the last Ryder Cups that we've lost and check the records of the guys - and I don't need to mention the names, you know who the top guys are - none of them have a winning record. It's not going to get any better. The next Ryder Cup if they play again, it'll be exactly the same. They've got to come to the top. When we played, it was me, Nicklaus, you understand, Watson. Your three top dogs have got to give you plus in that week. If they give a minus, you're dead. And you don't think they know it over there. They're talking about it now. We start talking about it when we get fitted for the pants a month before. (Laughter.) We don't worry about it down here, you see. They're talking about it now. That captain is already looking at guys playing and where am I going to put this guy, this guy. They're doing it right now, uh-huh.
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