June 16

This Day in History

Sports

Jun 16, 1968:

Lee Trevino wins his first U.S. Open

On June 16, 1968, golfer Lee Trevino wins the U.S. Open at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. His score of 275 for 72 holes tied a U.S. Open record.

Lee Trevino was born in Dallas, Texas, on December 1, 1939, and raised along with two sisters by his mother and grandfather in a one-room house in North Dallas without plumbing or electricity. As a child, Trevino worked in the fields alongside his family and as a result attended school only intermittently. At age eight, he took a job on the public golf course near his home, where he developed the ball-striking skills that would one day awe his fellow professionals. Trevino enlisted in the Marines at 17, and played on the U.S. Marines golf team. After his discharge in 1960 he returned to making a living at a golf course, clerking and hustling other golfers for money.

Trevino, a Mexican-American, was one of a very few minorities in the PGA when he earned his tour card in 1967. Despite his awkward, self-taught brand of golf, he finished fifth at the U.S. Open that year, eight shots behind Jack Nicklaus, who shot a record 275. At the 1968 U.S. Open, Trevino played among the leaders throughout the tourney. On the last day, he was paired with Bert Yancey, an Army golfer who led for the tournament. Trevino pulled away on the fifth hole and added to his lead the rest of the day to finish with a record-tying 275. (Jack Nicklaus finished with a 279.)

Over the course of his career, Trevino earned a reputation as a scrappy player who knew how to finish big and always played to win. He won the U.S. Open again in 1971, the British Open in 1971 and 1972 and the PGA Championship in 1974 and 1984. For his career, he won 29 PGA tournaments and 29 tournaments on the Champions Tour.

Lee Trevino is the only player to win three national titles in the same year, a feat he accomplished in 1971 by winning the U.S., Canadian and British Opens.

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