ORLANDO, Fla – Jim Thorpe, a PGA Tour player in the ’80s and’ 90s, watched golf here on Saturday. He enjoys watching golf, the PNC championship, the old father-son event. Someone asked Thorpe, “In your life, who have you met who knows the most about golf? “
“Hogan,” Thorpe said.
Ben Hogan, the man who made the 1 iron cool. His name, which never goes dormant, is even more in circulation now, as Tiger Woods attempts to do what Hogan did over 70 years ago, return to golf after a devastating car crash.
“Well, Hogan and Trevino,” Thorpe said, refining his response. Lee Trevino was nearby at the time, here at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. Trevino is 82 years old and plays in the PNC for the 24th consecutive time. He is the only one to have played in each of them. As a golfer spirit, Trevino is at the level of Mensa.
If you are on a golf course during a thunderstorm, Trevino once said, hold your 1 iron. Why? “Because even God can’t hit a 1 iron,” Trevino said.
It’s a worn-out old line, but worth exploring, right now. It is an event, like the Masters and not so many others, where the game is passed on from one generation to the next.
When Woods hosted his first Champions Dinner in Augusta in 1998, Sarazen was in the room. Gene Sarazen, the man who invented the sand iron, who played elite golf 100 years ago, met Woods, and Woods met Sarazen. Maybe not well, but they shook hands and more. People said, I shook hands with the man who shook hands with the man who shook hands with President Lincoln. You know, the story. Pass it.
Trevino landed in the game when Arnold Palmer was at the height of his powers, in the midst of golf’s glamorous boom, the swing of the 60s. Trevino can talk about Palmer all day and all night, if he does. is in the mood. This is such a notable.
This is an NBC Sports event. You could also say it’s an Arnold event. Arnold was an NBC guy and an Orlando resident. PNC’s corporate roots are in Pittsburgh. Arnold was a guy from Pittsburgh and was welcome at all of his banks. (Palmer didn’t like debt. Banks like to lend money to people who don’t need it.) Cadillac vehicles stood on colorful elevated stages at strategic locations along the route. Arnold was a Cadillac guy.
Palmer is the patron saint of this event. Now that he’s gone – dead for half a decade already – there’s Trevino and there’s Gary Player and there, believe it or not, there’s Tiger Woods.
This event is a chance for golf to do what golf can do – pass the game on from generation to generation. That’s why Trevino’s presence here is important. That’s why the most significant thing that happened here this week, on a super granular level, was Trevino teaching Charlie Woods, Tiger’s 12-year-old son, a lesson. Tiger was watching. That’s all he did. He watched. There is a lot to be said for that.
“Trevino is such a genius in golf,” a reporter asked Woods on Saturday night. “How was it for you to watch Trevino teach Charlie a lesson?” “
“He wasn’t really teaching Charlie a lesson,” Woods said. “He was just talking. As he does. I had the chance to meet Lee quite early in my career, the quality of the strike. He is now 82 years old. It’s not what it used to be, but it finds the middle of the face every time. I don’t care how old you are.
” The sound. It still has audio. And it still has the shape of the blows. It doesn’t go that far now. But no one has control of that golf ball, not as well as him. The old girl was blowing in the wind, the punches he played, how he did it, hardening in Texas, and it transferred pretty much all over the world. The people would just sit there and listen. Listen. You walk up to the shooting range and you know the guys who know how to hit a golf ball. Lee was that guy.
If you want to know why Fred Couples cried when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, when he mentioned Lee Trevino, the answer can be found in the previous paragraph.
If you want to know how many major tournaments Tiger Woods would have won if the game had remained a game of khaki, steel and balata, read his quote above.
If you want to know what era Tiger would have liked to play in, read his quote above.
It is assumed here that Tiger will come to this event for many years to come, God willing and the stream is not going up. He has a son. One day he might have golfing grandchildren. Arnold used to perform in this event with his grandson, Sam Saunders. Another grandson, Will Wears, played in the pro-am game this week with longtime Palmer business manager Alastair Johnston.
Trevino’s partner here is his athletic, younger son, Daniel. Trevino has played from the front tees. He held himself slightly closed on most shots, pulled the club slightly to the outside, dropped it slightly and hit low draws all the way. It was magical to watch.
When he approached a green, he would sometimes start making practice shots with his putter long before he got to the ball. When he got off the green he would sometimes start to practice swinging for his next shot. When he ate a banana, it was slowly and methodically. He moves when he needs to.
He wore two putters.
He had no headgear on his driver.
After a long wait, Trevino latched onto the side of his cart, to lie down.
There are so many things you would like to ask him. For example, how often does a man have to have his hair cut? Because Trevino’s hair is always perfect. He’s short and he’s not thin and he looks like a movie star and a man who’s lived a lifetime.
The Trevinos made an eagle on the last par-5 and Trevino stopped and spoke to reporters for about three minutes. He was asked about his shooting session with Charlie, watching Tiger. Here’s what Trevino said:
“See, now that I’m 82, I’m in Vegas every week. He’s staying in Vegas. We had a great conversation yesterday. It was beautiful. It would make the headlines.
“He and I are good friends. I’ve known him since he was eight. Appreciate it, very much. I know what he’s going through. I’ve had these back surgeries and stuff, and no matter how long you give him, he’ll beat him.
Treviso had finished. Trevino was hungry. Trevino is mean, or he can be. You know, geniuses are not easy.
Michael Bamberger can be reached at [email protected].
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