Trevino merrily prepares for Father/Son

Lee Trevino practices for the 2013 PNC Father/Son Challenge in Orlando, Fla.

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— On a warm December morning, the driving range at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club was empty except for one lone golfer at the far end in the distance. Squint if you must, but the swing is a dead giveaway. In his inimitable fashion, he once described his move as “looking like a caveman killing his lunch.”

There is Lee Trevino, the golfer who claims he came from a long line of striped range balls, still beating them all these years later. He turned 74 on Dec. 1, and says, “I’m old, and I wish I was young.”

He plays competitively just four times a year these days: the Legends of Golf with buddy Mike Hill, the Greats of Golf in Houston and Minneapolis, and this week with his son, Daniel, at the PNC Father/Son Challenge. Call them his four majors.

“This is a big thing for me because of my son,” Trevino said. “Any time you get to play with him in competition, it’s just a special, special thing. I think all of us dads talk about this all year long.”

Lanny Wadkins, who is playing with his son Travis, echoed that sentiment.

“It’s probably the only reason I still try to play at all,” Wadkins said. “For me, it’s as good as it gets.”

That’s why Trevino, who will be playing alongside Jack Nicklaus and son Jack II, was up early getting sharp for the two-day event, which begins in earnest Saturday.

Trevino was hitting alone because Daniel was in California taking an exam. He is a junior at USC, studying business. Trevino said Daniel had a heavy load this semester and doesn’t play on the golf team, but he implied it wasn’t for a lack of ability.

“You’ve got to get up at 6 a.m. in the morning. He doesn’t get home until 4,” Trevino cracked. “He’s rented a house with seven fraternity brothers. If they don’t get spinal meningitis, it will never happen. The cockroaches are having a ball.”

Trevino spent Monday in Atlanta doing a TV shoot for Bridgestone and picked up some new clubs he was testing. It was like watching an artist at work. Trevino gripped a hybrid and hit it high and hit it low. He flighted the ball a yard or so higher at a time.

“Now I’m going to hit me that high draw to get at that back flag,” he said.

When he tired of lofting it higher, he hit a low one that could’ve scared the squirrels. “That one’s to get out of the bushes.”

He grabbed a driver and hit a series of tee shots straight as a clothesline. “I switched to a 46¼-inch regular shaft from a 45-inch stiff. Got it out of the archives,” he said. “And I went from 10.5 (degree) loft down to 8.5. Never used an 8.5 before, but I can still get it in the air.”

Trevino was most excited about his new mallet putter. He said he was over the yips and rolling it well – for now.

“Putters have eyes. They will recognize you,” he said. “Even if you get a new putter and putt well for a few rounds, it doesn’t really matter. As soon as that putter recognizes you, it’s over. I won tournaments where I used four different putters before. My mother-in-law used to go crazy. She’d say, ‘He changed again.’ Why do I use a different putter? So it doesn’t recognize me.”

Most recognize The Merry Mex as one of the greats of the game, though he spun it a different way.

“I was telling one of my friends the other day, I’m just a has-been,” he said. “But here’s the thing: To be a has-been, first you have to have been a was!”

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