First, some background. Facing Jack Nicklaus in an 18-hole playoff at the 1971 U.S. Open at Merion, Trevino pulled a rubber snake out of his bag on the first tee. (He had the snake in his bag from a photo shoot earlier that week, at right.) Nicklaus asked to see the snake, so Trevino tossed it to him, which caused a nearby woman to shriek and distracted Nicklaus. Trevino went on to win the playoff. Some charged Trevino with gamesmanship, though Trevino and Nicklaus disagreed, according to Golf Magazine’s Joe Passov. Whatever the case, the snake has entered the game’s lore, so Trevino was asked about it during a press conference at Merion on Tuesday.
Q. Lee, do you still have the snake? It’s kind of like Hogan’s 1 iron.
LEE TREVINO: It died. It’s been 42 years ago. No snakes live 42 years. [Laughter.] Come on, man. Where the hell, what did they teach you in journalism school? Not about snakes, right?
Q. What did you do with it?
LEE TREVINO: It died. [Laughter.]
Needless to say, the Hall of Fame player and talker had many more great lines Tuesday. Here are some highlights:
On what Merion means to him:
“When you mention Merion I say, yeah, that’s where I beat that guy.”
On mud balls:
“I had an advantage in the mud. I hit a low ball. Very seldom my ball ever picked up mud because I went so low that it cleaned itself before it stopped rolling. You think about that. You think that’s funny, but it’s true. And you have to adapt your game to that. If your ball starts picking up mud out there and you’re going up here, brother, you better bring this baby down here. And the lower you hit it, it’s not going to pick up mud because it will absolutely clean itself before. All this theory about, oh, if the mud’s on the right it will go left and if the mud’s on the left it will go left and believe me, that’s a bunch of baloney. You don’t know where the hell it’s going to go when that mud is on there.” On the U.S. Open champions dinner Tuesday night:
“We tell the same stories but we have forgotten them. We tell the same jokes but we have forgotten them. We all laugh like hell.”
On the media:
“I’ve been watching you guys, I’ve been watching you on the channel and y’all are asking too many silly questions.”