Lee Trevino won the 1968 U.S. Open and then his career became legendary from there.
Lee Trevino rose up from a hardscrabble youth to become one of the greatest golfers of his time, or any time. He did it by hitting millions of golf balls, and he did it with a smile and a wit rarely matched in golf history.
Trevino was born into poverty and never knew his father. He was raised by his mother and his grandfather, a gravedigger. Lee began working at a very early age, toiling in the Texas cotton fields as young as age 5.
But when an uncle gave him a rusty golf club and a few beat up balls, the young Trevino found his calling. He began caddying at age eight, sometimes attending school but more often working or practicing golf.
At age 17, Trevino joined the Marines and served four years. Following his discharge, he returned to golf, becoming a club pro in 1960. While at an El Paso club in the mid-60s, the then unknown Trevino battled the already famous Ray Floyd over three titanic days in one of the most legendary gambling matches in golf history. They came out even.
Trevino found his way onto the PGA Tour in 1967, and quickly established himself as one of the best. He won the U.S. Open in 1968, and from then until around 1974 was a dominant force. He won all but one of his six majors during that span, and four scoring titles. His 1971 U.S. Open victory is his best-known, as he defeated Jack Nicklaus in an 18-hole playoff for the win.
Trevino was nearly killed when he was struck by lightning during a tournament in 1975. The injuries he suffered lingered, but he recovered to win another Vardon Trophy in 1980. The 1984 PGA Championship was his final major and final PGA Tour victory.
Trevino was just as good on the Senior Tour, winning 29 times.
Trevino is considered one of the best ballstrikers, and one of the most creative ballstrikers, the game has ever seen. He aligned left of his target and faded the ball, and was amazingly consistent at putting the ball right where he wanted it.
Lee Trevino was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1981.